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Analyzing Twitter: Advanced Algorithm Predicts Likelihood of Online Protests

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A protester.

A new algorithm developed by Arizona State University researchers could help anticipate online protests via Twitter.

Credit: Jason Hargrove/Flickr

Arizona State University (ASU) researchers have developed and studied an algorithm to help anticipate online protests via Twitter.

"We want predict the characteristics of the user's next status message given his past interactions," says ASU researcher Suhas Ranganath. "The use case for this is we can predict if a user will protest in his next status message using his past information. The past information we use are his status messages, his interactions. What we find here is that, if we see what the user has interacted with, who they have interacted with in the past and what the interactions were, we can model that to predict what the next status will be."

The algorithm compiles tweets from around the world that relate to various topics, according to ASU researcher Fred Morstatter.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researcher Joe Yun says the identification of trends and key influencers and online topics would be valuable to companies and media networks, but he thinks it may not yet be sufficiently mature for national security applications. "These researchers are showing that it's not just what you talk about on Twitter from your own history that can predict whether or not you will state a strong position on a certain topic, but also adding how much others that are talking about that topic include you in their conversation about that topic," he notes.

From Government Technology
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