Lesson 3. Create Word Frequency Counts and Sentiments Using Twitter Data and Tweepy in Python

Learning Objectives

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Clean or “munge” social media data to prepare it for analysis.
  • Explore and analyze word counts associated with tweets.
  • Analyze sentiments (i.e. attitudes) in tweets.

What You Need

You will need a computer with internet access to complete this lesson.

In this lesson, you will learn how to take a set of tweets and clean them in order to analyze the frequency of words found in the tweets. You will learn how to do several things including:

  1. Remove URLs from tweets.
  2. Clean up tweet text including differences in case (e.g. upper, lower) that will affect unique word counts.
  3. Summarize and count individual and sets of words found in tweets.

When you work with social media and other text data, the user community creates and curates the content. This means there are NO RULES! This also means that you may have to perform extra steps to clean the data to ensure you are analyzing the right thing.

Next, you will explore the text associated with a set of tweets that you access using tweepy and the Twitter API. You will use some standard natural language processing (also known as text mining) approaches to do this.

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import seaborn as sns
import itertools
import collections

import tweepy as tw
import nltk
from nltk.corpus import stopwords
import re
import networkx

import warnings


Remember to define your keys:

consumer_key= 'yourkeyhere'
consumer_secret= 'yourkeyhere'
access_token= 'yourkeyhere'
access_token_secret= 'yourkeyhere'
auth = tw.OAuthHandler(consumer_key, consumer_secret)
auth.set_access_token(access_token, access_token_secret)
api = tw.API(auth, wait_on_rate_limit=True)

Now that you’ve authenticated you’re ready to search for tweets that contain #climatechange. Below you grab 1000 recent tweets.

search_term = "#climate+change -filter:retweets"

tweets = tw.Cursor(api.search,

all_tweets = [tweet.text for tweet in tweets]
['#Climate change is fueling wildfires, warns National Climate Assessment https://t.co/cKFbSq4pgP',
 '@CNN @AC360 @andersoncooper To deny #ClimateCchange is to put America at risk and has failed at protection. Houston… https://t.co/U8H9rSf3E1',
 '...And CNN has Rick Santorum back spouting nonsense about #climate change @andersoncooper #ClimateChangeIsReal… https://t.co/vxgTCPKHDI',
 '@CNN @andersoncooper please STOP bringing @RickSantorum onto your show. He knows nothing about #climate change and… https://t.co/oltssRwwr3',
 '#Environment World must triple efforts or face catastrophic #climate change, says UN https://t.co/2FTyUE11nW']

The tweets above have some elements that you do not want in your word counts. For instance, URLs will not be analyzed in this lesson. You can remove URLs (links) using regular expressions accessed from the re package. Re stands for regular expressions. Regular expressions are a special syntax that is used to identify patterns in a string.

While this lesson will not cover regular expressions, it is helpful to understand that this syntax below:

([^0-9A-Za-z \t])|(\w+:\/\/\S+)

Tells the search to find all strings that look like a URL, and replace it with nothing – "". It also removes other punctionation including hashtags - #.

re.sub allows you to substitute a selection of characters defined using a regular expression, with something else.

In the function defined below, this line takes the text in each tweet and replaces the URL with "" (nothing): re.sub("([^0-9A-Za-z \t])|(\w+:\/\/\S+)", "", tweet

def remove_url(txt):
    """Replace URLs found in a text string with nothing 
    (i.e. it will remove the URL from the string).

    txt : string
        A text string that you want to parse and remove urls.

    The same txt string with url's removed.

    return " ".join(re.sub("([^0-9A-Za-z \t])|(\w+:\/\/\S+)", "", txt).split())

After defining the function, you can call it in a list comprehension to create a list of the clean tweets.

all_tweets_no_urls = [remove_url(tweet) for tweet in all_tweets]
['Climate change is fueling wildfires warns National Climate Assessment',
 'CNN AC360 andersoncooper To deny ClimateCchange is to put America at risk and has failed at protection Houston',
 'And CNN has Rick Santorum back spouting nonsense about climate change andersoncooper ClimateChangeIsReal',
 'CNN andersoncooper please STOP bringing RickSantorum onto your show He knows nothing about climate change and',
 'Environment World must triple efforts or face catastrophic climate change says UN']

Text Cleanup - Address Case Issues

Capitalization is also a challenge when analyzing text data. If you are trying to create a list of unique words in your tweets, words with capitalization will be different from words that are all lowercase.

# Note how capitalization impacts unique returned values
ex_list = ["Dog", "dog", "dog", "cat", "cat", ","]

# Get unique elements in the list
{',', 'Dog', 'cat', 'dog'}

To account for this, you can make each word lowercase using the string method .lower(). In the code below, this method is applied using a list comprehension.

# Note how capitalization impacts unique returned values
words_list = ["Dog", "dog", "dog", "cat", "cat", ","]

# Make all elements in the list lowercase
lower_case = [word.lower() for word in words_list]

# Get all elements in the list
['dog', 'dog', 'dog', 'cat', 'cat', ',']

Now all of the words in your list are lower case. You can again use set() function to return only unique words.

# Now you have only unique words
{',', 'cat', 'dog'}

Create List of Words from Tweets

Right now you have a list of lists that contains each full tweet. However, to do a word frequency analysis, you need a list of all of the words associated with each tweet. You can use .split() to split out each word into a unique element in a list.

# Split the words from one tweet into unique elements

Of course, you will notice above that you have a capital word in your list of words. You can combine .lower() with .split() to remove capital letters and split up the tweet in one step.

# Split the words from one tweet into unique elements

To split words in all of the tweets, you can then string both methods together in a list comprehension.

# Create a sublist of words for each tweet, all lower case
words_in_tweet = [tweet.lower().split() for tweet in all_tweets_no_urls]

Tweet Length Analysis

A tweet is limited to 280 characters. You can explore how many words (not including links) were used by people that recently tweeted about climate change. To do this, you will use the len() function to calculate the length of each list of words that are associated with each tweet.

tweet_word_count = [len(word) for word in words_in_tweet]
[9, 18, 13]

You can use the list you created above to plot the distribution of tweet length.

# Get the average word count
average_word_count = np.mean(tweet_word_count)

# Print this value out in a text statement
print('The average number of words in each tweet is %0.6f' % average_word_count)

fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(8, 6))

# Plot the histogram
        bins=50, color="purple")

# Add labels of specified sizes
ax.set(xlabel="Word Count",
       title="Tweet Word Count Distribution")

# Plot a line for the average value
The average number of words in each tweet is 15.650000

Remove Stopwords From Tweet Text With nltk

The Python package nltk is commonly used for text analysis. Included in this package is a list of “stop words”. These include commonly appearing words such as who, what, you, ect. that generally do not add meaningful information to the text you are trying to analysis.

[nltk_data] Downloading package stopwords to
[nltk_data]     /home/jpalomino/nltk_data...
[nltk_data]   Package stopwords is already up-to-date!
stop_words = set(stopwords.words('english'))

# View a few words from the set
['against', 'on', "it's", 'does', 're', 'ma', 'd', 'can', 'was', 'haven']

Notice that the stop words provided by nltk are all lower-case. This works well given you already have converted all of your tweet words to lower case using the Python string method .lower().

Next, you will remove all stop words from each tweet. First, have a look at the words in the first tweet below.


Below, you remove all of the stop words in each tweet. The list comprehension below might look confusing as it is nested. The list comprehension below is the same as calling:

for all_words in words_in_tweet:
    for a word in all_words:
        # remove stop words

Compare the words in the original tweet to the words in the tweet once the stop words are removed:

# Remove stop words from each tweet list of words
tweets_nsw = [[word for word in tweet_words if not word in stop_words]
              for tweet_words in words_in_tweet]


Remove Collection Words

In additional to removing stopwords, it is common to also remove collection words. Collection words are the words that you used to query your data from Twitter. In this case, you used climate change as a collection term. Thus, you can expect that these terms will be found in each tweet. This could skew your word frequency analysis.

Remove the words - climate, change, and climatechange - from the tweets.

collection_words = ['climatechange', 'climate', 'change']
tweets_nsw_nc = [[w for w in word if not w in collection_words]
                 for word in tweets_nsw]

['fueling', 'wildfires', 'warns', 'national', 'assessment']

Calculate Word Frequency

Now that you have cleaned up your data, you are ready to calculate word frequencies.

To begin, flatten your list. Note that you could flatten your list with another list comprehension like this: all_words = [item for sublist in tweets_nsw for item in sublist]

But it’s actually faster to use itertools to flatten the list as follows.

# All words
all_words = list(itertools.chain(*tweets_nsw))
# All words not including the collection words
all_words_nocollect = list(itertools.chain(*tweets_nsw_nc))

Now you have two lists of words from your tweets: one with and one without the collection words. Remember that in this sample, the average tweet length was about 16 words, before the stop words are removed, so the number of words seem reasonable.

To get the count of how many times each words appears in the sample, you can use the built-in Python library collections, which helps create a special type of a Python dictonary.

counts_with_collection_words = collections.Counter(all_words)

Look at the counts for your data including the collection words. Notice that the words climate, change and climatechange are prevalent in your analysis given they were a collection term.

Thus, it likely does make sense to remove them from this analysis.

The collection.Counter object has a useful built-in method most_common that will return the most commonly used words, and the number of times that they are used.

# View word counts for list that includes collection terms
[('climate', 927),
 ('change', 599),
 ('report', 159),
 ('climatechange', 122),
 ('trump', 105),
 ('us', 96),
 ('new', 67),
 ('amp', 59),
 ('believe', 57),
 ('government', 49),
 ('globalwarming', 44),
 ('national', 40),
 ('via', 40),
 ('world', 37),
 ('says', 36)]
# View word counts for list that does NOT INCLUDE collection terms
cleaned_tweet_word_list = collections.Counter(all_words_nocollect)
[('report', 159),
 ('trump', 105),
 ('us', 96),
 ('new', 67),
 ('amp', 59),
 ('believe', 57),
 ('government', 49),
 ('globalwarming', 44),
 ('national', 40),
 ('via', 40),
 ('world', 37),
 ('says', 36),
 ('gpwx', 36),
 ('could', 36),
 ('assessment', 35)]

To find out the number of unique words, you can take the len() of the object counts you just created.


Finally, you can turn your list of words into a Pandas Dataframe for analysis and plotting.

df_tweet_words = pd.DataFrame.from_dict(cleaned_tweet_word_list,

df_tweet_words.columns = ['words', 'count']
# Sort dataframe by word count
sorted_df = df_tweet_words.sort_values(by='count',

# Select top 16 words with highest word counts
sorted_df_s = sorted_df[:16]
sorted_df_s = sorted_df_s.sort_values(by='count', ascending=True)
fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(8, 8))

# Plot horizontal bar graph
        color = 'purple');

ax.set(xlabel="Count", ylabel="Words",)

ax.set_title("Common Words Found in Tweets")

Explore Networks of Words

You might also want to explore words that occur together in tweets. You can do that next using bigrams from nltk.

Begin by creating a list of bigrams (i.e. co-occurring) in the tweets.

from nltk import bigrams
# Create list of bigrams in tweets
terms_bigram = [list(bigrams(tweet)) for tweet in tweets_nsw_nc]

# View bigrams for the first tweet
[('fueling', 'wildfires'),
 ('wildfires', 'warns'),
 ('warns', 'national'),
 ('national', 'assessment')]

Notice that the words are paired due to co-occurrence. You can remind yourself of the original tweet or the cleaned list of words to see how co-occurrence is identified.

'Climate change is fueling wildfires warns National Climate Assessment'
['fueling', 'wildfires', 'warns', 'national', 'assessment']

You can use a counter combined with a for loop to calculate the count of occurrence for each bigram. The counter is used to store the bigrams as dictionary keys and their counts are as dictionary values.

You can then query attributes of the counter to identify the top 20 common bigrams across the tweets.

from collections import Counter

bigram_counts = Counter()

for lst in terms_bigram:
    for bigram in lst:
        bigram_counts[bigram] += 1
[(('gpwx', 'globalwarming'), 34),
 (('national', 'assessment'), 29),
 (('government', 'report'), 25),
 (('dont', 'believe'), 20),
 (('report', 'warns'), 19),
 (('us', 'government'), 14),
 (('new', 'report'), 13),
 (('doesnt', 'believe'), 13),
 (('global', 'warming'), 13),
 (('us', 'economy'), 12),
 (('climateaction', 'climatechangeisreal'), 11),
 (('climatechangeisreal', 'poetry'), 11),
 (('poetry', 'poem'), 11),
 (('federal', 'report'), 11),
 (('trump', 'administration'), 10),
 (('fourth', 'national'), 10),
 (('soil', 'takes'), 10),
 (('takes', 'decades'), 10),
 (('decades', 'catch'), 10),
 (('catch', 'changes'), 10)]

Visualizing Bigrams

You can visualize the top 20 occurring bigrams using the Python packages NetworkX. To do this, it is helpful to understand how to query the bigrams and their counts.

Note that you can select from the top 20 occurring bigrams using indexing (e.g. [1] to select the second most occurring bigram and count, and then [0] to select the bigram words without the counts).

('national', 'assessment')

You can use indexing to create lists of the bigrams and their counts.

bigrams = [bigram_counts.most_common(20)[x][0] for x in np.arange(20)]
[('gpwx', 'globalwarming'),
 ('national', 'assessment'),
 ('government', 'report'),
 ('dont', 'believe'),
 ('report', 'warns'),
 ('us', 'government'),
 ('new', 'report'),
 ('doesnt', 'believe'),
 ('global', 'warming'),
 ('us', 'economy'),
 ('climateaction', 'climatechangeisreal'),
 ('climatechangeisreal', 'poetry'),
 ('poetry', 'poem'),
 ('federal', 'report'),
 ('trump', 'administration'),
 ('fourth', 'national'),
 ('soil', 'takes'),
 ('takes', 'decades'),
 ('decades', 'catch'),
 ('catch', 'changes')]
bigram_count = [bigram_counts.most_common(20)[x][1] for x in np.arange(20)]

You can then combine these lists into a Pandas Dataframe.

bigram_df = pd.DataFrame({'bigram': bigrams, 'count': bigram_count})
0(gpwx, globalwarming)34
1(national, assessment)29
2(government, report)25
3(dont, believe)20
4(report, warns)19
5(us, government)14
6(new, report)13
7(doesnt, believe)13
8(global, warming)13
9(us, economy)12
10(climateaction, climatechangeisreal)11
11(climatechangeisreal, poetry)11
12(poetry, poem)11
13(federal, report)11
14(trump, administration)10
15(fourth, national)10
16(soil, takes)10
17(takes, decades)10
18(decades, catch)10
19(catch, changes)10

You can also use the Pandas Dataframe to plot a network of the bigrams using the Python package networkx.

# Create dictionary of bigrams and their counts
d = bigram_df.set_index('bigram').T.to_dict('records')
import networkx as nx

G = nx.Graph()

# Create connections between nodes
for k, v in d[0].items():
    G.add_edge(k[0], k[1], weight=(v * 10))

G.add_node("china", weight=100)
fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(16, 20))

pos = nx.spring_layout(G, k=1)

# Plot networks
nx.draw_networkx(G, pos,
                 with_labels = False,

# Create offset labels
for key, value in pos.items():
    x, y = value[0]+.01, value[1]+.05
    ax.text(x, y,
            bbox=dict(facecolor='red', alpha=0.5),

Sentiment Analysis

You may also want to analyze the tweets to identify attitudes (i.e. sentiments) toward the subject of interest. To do this, you can use the Python package textblob.

Sentiment is scored using polarity values in a range from 1 to -1, in which values closer to 1 indicate more positivity and values closer to -1 indicate more negativity.

Begin with the climate+change tweets that you previously cleaned up to remove URLs, and recall that it is helpful for the tweets to be formatted as lower case.

from textblob import TextBlob
# All tweets

# Format tweets as lower case
tweets_clean = [tweet.lower() for tweet in all_tweets_no_urls]
'climate change is fueling wildfires warns national climate assessment'
# Create textblob objects of the tweets
sentiment_number = [TextBlob(tweet) for tweet in tweets_clean]
TextBlob("climate change is fueling wildfires warns national climate assessment")
# Calculate the polarity values for the textblob objects
s_n = [[tweet.sentiment.polarity, str(tweet)] for tweet in sentiment_number]
[0.0, 'climate change is fueling wildfires warns national climate assessment']
# Create dataframe containing the polarity value and tweet text
sent_df = pd.DataFrame(s_n, columns=["polarity", "tweet"])
00.0climate change is fueling wildfires warns nati...
1-0.5cnn ac360 andersoncooper to deny climatecchang...
20.0and cnn has rick santorum back spouting nonsen...
30.0cnn andersoncooper please stop bringing ricksa...
40.0environment world must triple efforts or face ...
fig, ax = plt.subplots()

# Plot histogram of the polarity values
sent_df.hist(bins=[-1, -0.75, -0.5, -0.25, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1],


What does the histogram of the polarity values tell you about sentiments in the tweets gathered from the search “#climate+change -filter:retweets”? Are they more positive or negative?

Next, explore a new topic, the recent Camp Fire in California. Begin by reviewing what you have learned about searching for and cleaning tweets.

search_term = "#CampFire -filter:retweets"

tweets = tw.Cursor(api.search,

all_tweets = [TextBlob(remove_url(tweet.text.lower())) for tweet in tweets]

[TextBlob("support cafirefound this givingtuesday as they continue to support the families affected by the campfire and"),
 TextBlob("were supporting the butte county community by brewing resilienceipa we will donate 100 of resilience sales to t"),
 TextBlob("1 missingpets foundpets1127 campfire campfirepets paradise foundcat cats these kitties are all at san"),
 TextBlob("drove up from la at 5am this morning to volunteer with north state public radio nsprnews to report on the"),
 TextBlob("more than 1000 breweries from around the world help sierra nevada brew resilience ipa to help campfire victims")]

Then, you can calculate the polarity values and plot the histogram for the Camp Fire tweets, just like you did for the climate change data.

wild_sent = [[tweet.sentiment.polarity, str(tweet)] for tweet in all_tweets]
wild_sent_df = pd.DataFrame(wild_sent, columns=["polarity", "tweet"])

fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(8, 8))

wild_sent_df.hist(bins=[-1, -0.75, -0.5, -0.25, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1],

It can also be helpful to remove the polarity values equal to zero and create a break in the histogram at zero, so you can get a better visual of the polarity values.

Does this revised histogram highlight whether sentiments from the Camp Fire tweets are more positive or negative?

# Create dataframe without polarity values equal to zero
df = wild_sent_df[wild_sent_df.polarity != 0]

fig, ax = plt.subplots()

df.hist(bins=[-1, -0.75, -0.5, -0.25, 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1],
        ax=ax, color="purple")


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