From Lamba, Malik and Pfeffer (2015)

This one looks at whether bursts of controversy on Twitter have an effect on the behaviour of firestorm participants, applying the idea of “biographical consequences of activism”.

On the other hand, if firestorms arise from existing social ties, it would point to firestorms being a consequence rather than a cause of other action, and if there is no relation to social ties, it would be inconclusive but, as social actions are embedded in networks of social ties, it would suggest firestorms are of little importance.

Going back to our theoretical motivations, it seems that at least among the firestorms we sample, we see no evidence of the type of social change associated with action that has biographical consequences on participants. This suggests that, at least along this dimension, firestorms should not be a source of anxiety for targets nor a source of satisfaction for opponents; firestorms in general do not create the conditions to lead to larger and more long-term actions, at least among the mass of participants.

The method (comparing mention networks before, during and after a firestorm, and with mention networks of non-participants) is a bit rudimentary, but I like the point of departure.

Lamba, H., Malik, M. M., & Pfeffer, J. (2015). “A Tempest in a Teacup? Analyzing Firestorms on Twitter“. In 2015 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (pp. 17–24). Paris, France.