Reading the Riots on Twitter
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Reading the Riots on Twitter

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Presentation to Social Research Association, March 2012

Presentation to Social Research Association, March 2012

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  • The build history gives access to the sequence of analysis jobs that have been run as well as to the output files that each run produced. This data is archived on the server.
  • The cloud economics argument from Amazon shows how traditional forms of providing computational and storage resources are either wasteful or risk customer dissatisfaction. Using a cloud model, the level of resource provision can be adapted to current demand. The St Andrews Cloud Collaboratory (StACC) is a private cloud (actually, more than one) that allows us to allocate resources to a research project when needed and release them for other uses when not needed for the project. This allows St Andrews to do more research per server room / watt / CO2.

Reading the Riots on Twitter Reading the Riots on Twitter Presentation Transcript

  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER READING THE RIOTS ON TWITTER Rob Procter (University of Manchester) Farida Vis (University of Leicester) Alexander Voss (University of St Andrews) [Funded by JISC] http://www.analysingsocialmedia.org/ #readingtheriots
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Overview • Background • Methodology • Infrastructure and tools • Findings • Future work
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Background
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Social Media • Social media such as Twitter generate vast quantities of valuable research data: – How public opinion shapes and is shaped by events – Who shapes it, how it propagates and changes – in real-time – Everyday events, behaviour and choices – Polling, prediction, early warning, tracking social change • Traditional methods of media analysis are inadequate in the face of this ‘deluge’ of data.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER The Riots Corpus • 2.6M tweets harvested from the Twitter ‘fire hose’ matching specified #tags. • 700,000 individual accounts. • What can the corpus tell us about: – Reactions to events, both general and specific – How information flows through social media – Kinds of ‘actors’ involved and how they shape discourse – How social media is used to inform, organise, etc
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Methodology
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Approach • Development of computer-based tools for sentiment and topic analysis of tweets is an active area of research. • Our methodology combines computer-based tools with established content analysis techniques in ways that are complementary to their respective strengths.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Information Flows • Any collection of tweets can be divided into tweets that are ‘original’ and retweets. • If we are interested in how Twitter is used to communicate and share information, only reliable evidence that a tweet has been read is that it has been retweeted. • We used computational tools to group a tweet (the parent) and its retweets (its children) into information flows.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Information Flow Analysis For N = 1, CorpusMax InformationFlow[N-1] = {} If Corpus[N] == “RT @”.username.body (LevenshteinDistance, Parent) = LDMin(N- 1, username, body) If LevenshteinDistance< 30 InformationFlow[Parent] = InformationFlow[Parent] + Corpus[N]
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Example Information Flows Riots Corpus Great sight in my #Birmingham where #Pakistani lads are 2.6M Tweets protecting temples while Sikh lads protecting the mosques: 758 700000 accounts incitement pls?: 5 Can we have them arrested for Hackney! Fuck the feds! #hackney #punchcroft has just posted Go on someone calling themselves
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Coding Frames • Used established methods of content analysis to understand how Twitter was being used in the context of topics we wished to analyse. • Inductively coded information flows to develop a ‘code frame’ to categorise topics and examine relationships in context of a given topic.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Coding Frames
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Infrastructure and Tools
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Jenkins • Provides a generic runtime framework for data ingestion, annotation and analysis scripts. • Web front-end to allow researchers to run jobs and access output data. • Provenance of data through capture of job execution history and version-control of analysis scripts. • Makes use of a set of nodes for work-intensive jobs: both statically configured computers and cloud instances. • Cloud nodes are automatically created and configured as queue length builds up, then torn down when they fall idle.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Jenkins
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Jenkins
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Why Cloud Computing? St Andrews Cloud Collaboratory (StACC) Information flow analysis: 16 instances, one working day.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Findings [day 2]
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Rumours on Twitter
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  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Rumours on Twitter • Rumours ‘break’ quickly in Twitter. • Evidence of people acting mischievously (and perhaps maliciously) to initiate and reinforce false rumours. • Trusted sources such as mainstream media and the Police tend to lag behind crowd- sourced reports, so false rumours may persist longer, with potential risks to public order and safety.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Was Social Media to Blame?
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER The Accusers • David Cameron, Prime Minister “…whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.” “…struck by how they [the riots] were organised via social media.” • Louise Mensch, Conservative MP “Common sense. If riot info and fear is spreading by Facebook& Twitter, shut them off for an hour or two, then restore. World won’t implode.”
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER The Defenders • The Police – social media is a vital channel of communication: Twitter allows for “direct reassurance” and “dispel rumours … in a way that we could never have achieved previously.” On Use of Twitter: “overwhelmingly positive.” Kevin Hoy, web manager, Greater Manchester Police
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER The General Public • Two-thirds support social networking blackout in future riots: “A poll of 973 adults carried out for the online security firm Unisys found 70% of adults supported the shutdown of Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger (BBM), while only 27% disagreed.” • Support strongest among 65+, weakest among 18-24 year olds.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Incitement on Twitter? • Social media was used to incite and/or organise illegal acts. • We find very little of this in the Twitter corpus. • Pales into insignificance when compared to evidence that Twitter was used for more positive purposes.
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER #riotcleanup: Seen Potentially by 7 million
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Riot Cleanup
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Riot Cleanup
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Who Tweeted the Riots? 1. riotcleanup 40960 mentions 2. paullewis 30031 mentions 3. piersmorgan 20412 mentions 4. bbcnews 18836 mentions 5. itv_news 15177 mentions 6. bbcbreaking 13476 mentions 7. guardian 11513 mentions 8. lawcol888 9290 mentions 9. simonpegg 9240 mentions 10. gmpolice 8904 mentions
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Who Tweeted the Riots? Top 200 Twitter accounts by actor type140000 125768120000 < mainstream media100000 7904380000 < journalists 59193 < riot accounts60000 51534 4586940000 30839 32308 25464 22896 16136 1816320000 13303 14065 < 8285 4607 5757 5962 3196 spoof 4011 1031 0
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Who Tweeted the Riots? • Mainstream media and individual journalists mentioned most. • Riotcleanup most mentioned individual account. • Greater Manchester Police in top 10 individual accounts. • Emergency services low overall. Organise, broadcast and ask for information, voice opinions – support, ridicule for the riots, rioters, authorities and commentators
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Future Work
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER Workbench Development February 23 2012 59
  • READINGTHE RIOTSON TWITTER READING THE RIOTS Jonathan Richards Alastair Dant ON TWITTER Katie Loweth Marta Cantijoch Yana Manyukhina Rob Procter (University of Manchester) Mike Thelwall Farida Vis (University of Leicester) Steven Gray Alexander Voss (University of St Andrews) Rachel Gibson [Funded by JISC] Andy Hudson Smith http://www.analysingsocialmedia.org/ rob.procter@manchester.ac.uk