Can Twitter Predict Major Events Such as Mass Protests?

The idea that social media sites such as Twitter can predict the future has a controversial history. In the last few years, various groups have claimed to be able to predict everything from the outcome of elections to the box office takings for new movies. It’s fair to say that these claims have generated their fair share of criticism. So it’s interesting to see a new claim come to light.Today, Nathan Kallus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge says he has developed a way to predict crowd behaviour using statements made on Twitter. In particular, he has analysed the tweets associated with the 2013 coup d’état in Egypt and says that the civil unrest associated with this event was clearly predictable days in advance. It’s not hard to imagine how the future behaviour of crowds might be embedded in the Twitter stream. People often signal their intent to meet in advance and even coordinate their behaviour using social media. So this social media activity is a leading indicator of future crowd behaviour.

read more via technologyreview.com

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