Feng Mai, a professor at the business school of Stevens Institute of Technology, has conducted a study using scientific methods to confirm what many already expected: cryptocurrency prices are influenced by social media.

It is not necessarily the most prominent figures that can affect this as many may think, however, but it is the general public sentiment that can induce jumps or crashes in Bitcoin’s valuation.

Content from Bitcointalk and Twitter

Working in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati, Mai focused on the popular online forum Bitcointalk.org. The website was conceived by Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto in December 2009 and currently hosts 2.2 million members with 454 new registrations every day, according to its own statistics.

The research team collected an additional 3.3 million Twitter posts over a two-month period.

Python programming was initiated to separate all comments into good, bad and neutral, while also dividing them into categories for frequent and infrequent posters. The frequent posters were relatively small in number but created 60% of the samples used.

Vector Error collection, a method to study cases with many difficult variables to predict, was then employed to compare the posts with Bitcoin market trends. In this study, this meant that variables such as stock market movements were considered alongside the social media posts.

Conclusions

Mai cited the first conclusion as ”robust”, saying the prices are indeed affected by the sentiment of social media posts. “Many of us probably intuitively believe this, but this was the first robust statistical finding to verify that social media and Bitcoin prices are actually linked,” he said.

The study also found that frequent posters appear to have much less an effect on Bitcoin’s price than those who post less often. The “silent majority” as the study refers to them, have more power when they take the time to comment somewhere when they usually wouldn’t, appearing to make their say carry more influence.

The silent majority were seen to move the price up to ten times more when they left a positive comment. As Mai concludes, vocal social media users can sometimes voice a particular agenda in the direction of their own personal interest. ”So if most of the social messages around Bitcoin are generated by people who are biased, the sentiments on social media may not actually accurately reflect the currency’s actual value,” Mai noted.

This would indicate that people may trust the silent majority more as they are perhaps not vocalizing their own agenda. May said of his results: “this was a big finding”.

 

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