Hashtag Activity Can Confirm Societal Tension

September 19, 2013
hashFor the past few years, more people and groups from the Middle East have been using social media to improve communications between social and political agencies. Aside from getting quick information and improving means of communication, social media has also proven to be very effective in determining social issues, tension and other potential problems in society. As a result, the government and related organizations can look for measures that will hopefully alleviate the situation before serious complications occur. The QCRI, or Qatar Computing Research Institute, discovered that hashtag use can actually be useful as a measuring tool to determine existing tension in society. Thousands of users were observed and the respective hashtags they create and use. Data scientists tracked political polarization, the patterns of communication and conversation threads to get more information on current trends and approaches. The research observed if people are socializing more using the new platforms or isolate themselves from the rest of society. When the users and their social media activities were monitored and analyzed, specific information can be acquired which can show the various topics discussed, as well as the specific views of users regarding these issues. The experts realized that before violent outbreaks occurred, political polarization on Twitter rose significantly. Although conclusions were not drawn as to the causes and triggers of such outbreaks, social media professionals can state that societal issues and conflicts can be drawn out from social media accounts and hashtags. Related institutions can prepare for possible demonstrations and consequences before these actually happen. Let's see examples of hashtags with political or societal themes. #BenghaziWatch: Demands action over the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Tweet total in the last 30 days: 1,767 #IdleNoMore: Protest movement from the Aboriginal people in Canada, calling for greater awareness on indigenous people's rights. Tweet total in the last 30 days: 12,786

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