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How your tweets can reveal political polarisation?

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Researchers at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in Spain have developed a model to detect the extent to which a conversation on Twitter – and thus the actual offline argument and political climate—is polarised.

The model revealed that a group is “perfectly polarised” on a given topic when it has been divided into two groups of the same size holding opposite opinions. A politically polarised society implies several risks, such as the appearance of radicalism or civil wars.

“We were interested to find out how can political polarisation be detected and, therefore, be fixed,” said Rosa Maria Benito, a professor at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.

Case Study of Hugo Chavez

The researchers took the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2013 as the case study. Analysing 16 million tweets from more than three million users following Chavez’s death in Venezuela, Spanish researchers quantified the extent of polarization in Caracas. Benito and her colleagues downloaded over 16,383,490 messages written by 3,173,090 Twitter users from one month before and one month after Chavez’s death on March 5, 2013 – a total of 56 days.

They used these messages to create retweet networks, in which retweets could be considered a proxy for influence and adoption of ideas, and at last applied their model and polarisation index to the networks. Compilation of this data gave them a day-by-day breakdown of the extent of political polarisation in Venezuela over the course of 56 days.

It was surprising for the researchers to find that during the most critical days of the conversation – between Chavez’s death and state funeral- polarisation dropped to its lowest levels as foreign users had joined the conversation. This was the reason behind the disappearance of  polarised structure of the network. Benito and her colleagues then plotted the geo-located tweets on a map of Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, and compared the polarity expressed – opposition— with the voting records and political affiliations of each municipality, finding a strong correlation between the two.

 

 

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Average Twitter Users Become More Active During Natural Disasters

This suggests people are communicating about their preparation or recovery in real-time and sharing resources that could assist those seeking help

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This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. According to a study released Jan. 24, 2019, a tiny fraction of Twitter users spread the vast majority of fake news in 2016, with conservatives and older people sharing misinformation more. VOA

Despite the importance placed on celebrity social media influencers with millions of followers, during natural disasters average Twitter users become more active disseminators of information, finds a study.

The study, led by University of Vermont researchers, is the first to look at social media patterns across different disaster types (hurricanes, floods and tornadoes).

According to the study, Twitter users with small local networks (100-200 followers) increase their activity more than those with larger networks in these situations.

Instead of relying on high-profile social media influencers to help spread important information, the study suggests efforts should be concentrated on targeting average users with meaningful networks, with compelling, accurate messages that average people will feel compelled to share in the “social wild online.”

“We found ‘average Twitter users’ tweeted more frequently about disasters, and focused on communicating key information,” said Benjamin Emery from the varsity’s Complex Systems Center and Computational Story Lab.

“While these users have fewer followers than the so-called influencers, their followers tend to have a higher proportion of friends and family, close networks that are more likely to seek and exchange useful information in emergency situations,” he added.

Twitter
Average Twitter users more active during disasters: Study. Pixabay

The results, published in the journal PLOS ONE, have important implications for organisations responsible for communicating vital information around emergencies, particularly as natural hazards increase in incidence and cost, a trend expected to continue with climate change.

“In planning for natural hazards and disasters, thinking about when and what to tweet really does matter,” said Meredith Niles from the varsity.

Researchers found key differences in tweet timing and volume, depending on type of disaster. For hurricanes, people tweeted more frequently about emergency topics before the event, while for tornadoes and floods, which occur with less warning, Twitter was used for real-time or recovery information.

Also Read- Facebook Negotiating Multi-billion Dollar Fine With US Agency: Report

They also found terms like “groceries,” “supermarket,” and “prepare” were most frequently used before hurricanes whereas terms like “shelter,” “emergency,” “wind” or “food security” were used during and after tornadoes.

This suggests people are communicating about their preparation or recovery in real-time and sharing resources that could assist those seeking help. (IANS)