Open Access

Spread of tweets in climate discussions: A case study of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize announcement


Characterising the spreading of ideas within echo chambers is essential for understanding polarisation. In this article, we explore the characteristics of popular and viral content in climate change discussions on Twitter around the 2019 announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, where we find the retweet network of users to be polarised into two well-separated groups of activists and sceptics. Operationalising popularity as the number of retweets and virality as the spreading probability inferred using an independent cascade model, we find that the viral themes echo and differ from the popular themes in interesting ways. Most importantly, we find that the most viral themes in the two groups reflect different types of bonds that tie the community together, yet both function to enhance ingroup connections while repulsing outgroup engagement. With this, our study sheds light, from an information-spreading perspective, on the formation and upkeep of echo chambers in climate discussions.