How much news breaks on Twitter?

At Bloomberg, we’ve put in a big effort over the past decade to harness the Twitter firehose to detect breaking news.

The effort, which relies on both machine learning algorithms as well as hand-curated selections by editors, to detect tweets about companies and topics has given us a unique vantage point.

Our experience has led us to what we call the One Percent Rule for Breaking News on Social Media. 

Here’s how it works:

There are about 500 million tweets a day, according to Twitter. We estimate that 500,000 are “financially relevant.” That means they are about industries, from technology to energy, or companies, such as Tesla, or topics like the economy. 

We would consider a tweet about JPMorgan’s earnings or dividend policy as financially relevant, but not a post about a broken ATM. Posts about drilling for oil are relevant, but not about baby oil. 

About 1 percent of those 500,000 financially-relevant posts, or 5,000, are valuable enough to make them immediately visible to clients. We consider this group to have a high enough likelihood of breaking news to be monitored closely. 

On the Bloomberg professional terminal that means that we include them by default in search results when clients are looking for articles about companies or topics.

From the feed of 5,000, Bloomberg has a team of global editors who select about 1 percent, or 50 a day, that contain significant, original information that could move markets or change the landscape. 

Take 1 percent of that group and you get the tweets (2-3) each week that are surprising and significant, such as Elon Musk’s post that Telsa would stop accepting Bitcoin or Bill Gates announcing his divorce.  

These are the tweets that spawn mainstream media articles and dominate the news cycle. It may be hard to find, but it’s worth it.