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UK scientists use Twitter to gauge the population’s mood

Graeme Parton

Scientists from Loughborough University have unveiled computer software which they claim can  detail the nation’s mood using micro-blogging site Twitter.

Emotive works by delving into the emotional side of the posts published by the site’s users. According to its developers, the program can scan as many as 2,000 tweets every second and then categorise them into eight sections based on predetermined human emotions.

According to the team at the university’s recently opened Centre for Information Management, the system is able to pick up on expressions of disgust, happiness, anger, fear, surprise, confusion, shame and sadness.

They are also claiming that Emotive could even be used to identify public safety threats and to assist in calming situations of civil unrest. With more than 500 million people using Twitter on a regular basis, this could be the first of many high-profile attempts to harness its power for the benefit of communities across the UK.

The ability to evaluate moods on a national scale may be used to provide policy guidance on the best ways to respond to major incidents, one of the academics said. Speaking about the developments, Professor Tom Jackson, who headed the research team, explained:

“Twitter is a very concise platform through which users express how they feel about a particular event, be that a criminal act, a new government policy or even a change in the weather.

“Through the computer program we have created we can collate these expressions of feelings in real time, map them geographically and track how they develop.”

Businesses across the UK can use Twitter to pick up on the feelings of consumers on a smaller scale – giving them the information they need to respond appropriately and target potential customers effectively.

Currently, Emotive is only being utilised to analyse UK posts, but the experts have said that it could be scaled up to cover tweets all over the world.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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