Geographers at the University of California Santa Barbara and San Diego State University used Twitter data to identify how aware Americans are of global cities and found that Twitter users are much more aware of places they are close to, CityLab.com reported.
"Our social media interactions are restricted by our physical location. Even online, people tend to interact with others living nearby," the study said.
The researchers tracked the names of cities in messages that included Twitter geotags, which show a user's precise geographic location.
They then selected the 50 US cities with the densest populations and collected tweets within 30 km of the centre of each city, ending up with more than five million tweets that mentioned thousands of cities worldwide.
To quantify the geographic awareness of users from the same city, the study's authors created a global awareness index (GAI).
A high GAI indicates that Twitter users mention international or distant US cities more than local city names.
They also found that Twitter users in large, dense cities like New York and Los Angeles have a greater geographical awareness than users from less densely populated mid-sized cities.
In contrast to smaller places, the authors find that these global cities often do have more awareness of and connection to other global cities across the world.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.