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Micro-blogging site Twitter can Track and Detect Riots Faster than Police: Study

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London, June 27, 2017: With people increasingly taking to the social media, especially Twitter, to report or update events, observations and occurrences, new research says the micro-blogging site can track and detect major disruptive events faster than the police.

The study showed that computer systems using a series of machine-learning algorithms could automatically scan through tweets and detect serious incidents, such as breaking into a shop or setting cars alight, before they were reported to the police.

The computer system could also discern information about where the riots were rumoured to take place and where groups of youths were gathering.

On average the computer systems could pick up on the disruptive events several minutes before officials could. In some cases even over an hour ahead of the security personnel, the researchers said in the paper published in the journal ACM Transactions on Internet Technology.

“We will never replace traditional policing resource on the ground but we have demonstrated that this research could augment existing intelligence gathering and draw on new technologies to support more established policing methods,” said Pete Burnap from Cardiff University.

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Estimates put social media membership at approximately 2.5 billion non-unique users, and the data produced by these users have been used to predict elections, movie revenues and even the epicentre of earthquakes.

The study could enable police officers to better manage and prepare for both large and small scale disruptive events, the researchers added.

“We have previously used machine-learning and natural language processing on Twitter data to better understand online deviance, such as the spread of antagonistic narratives and cyber hate,” Burnap said.

For the study, the team analysed 1.6 million tweets related to the 2011 riots in England, which began as an isolated incident in Tottenham on August 6 but quickly spread across London and to other cities in England.

The researchers used a series of machine-learning algorithms to analyse each of the tweets from the dataset, taking into account a number of key features such as the time they were posted, the location where they were posted and the content of the tweet itself. (IANS)

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Under Fire For Myanmar Tweets

Dorsey was seen posing with six female journalists in a picture on Twitter, with a poster in his hands carrying the offending anti-Brahmin message: 'Smash Brahminical Patriarchy'

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Twitter, India, Smartphone
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, who faces a lawsuit for hurting Hindu sentiments during his visit to India in November, now faces criticism for promoting Myanmar as a tourist destination despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses in the country.

In a series of tweets, Dorsey said he had travelled to northern Myanmar in November for a meditation retreat.

“The people are full of joy and the food is amazing,” he said, before encouraging his four million followers to visit.

This led to widespread criticism of the Twitter chief, some accused him of ignoring the plight of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

In 2017, Myanmar’s military launched a violent crackdown after Rohingya militants carried out attacks on several police posts. Thousands of people were killed, and human rights organisations said the army has burned land and committed arbitrary killings and rape.

“Writing what is effectively a free tourism advert for them at this time is reprehensible,” one Twitter user wrote in response to Dorsey’s tweets.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“The tone-deafness here is… wow,” another user said. “This is an extremely irresponsible recommendation,” yet another reads. “Does he pay no attention to the news and the outcry on his own platform?”

The military crackdown had also sparked an exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingyas who have since fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the violence and the destruction of their homes.

The UN has described the operation as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and says senior Myanmar officials should be investigated and tried for genocide.

Mohammed Jamjoom, an Al Jazeera correspondent, who has interviewed Rohingya refugees, said he was left “utterly speechless” by Dorsey’s tweets.

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Dorsey is yet to respond to the criticism, but earlier said he would track the responses to his tweets.

A court in Rajasthan on December 1, asked the police to file a First Information Report against Dorsey for hurting the sentiments of the Brahmin community by posing for a picture holding an anti-Brahmin message.

Dorsey was seen posing with six female journalists in a picture on Twitter, with a poster in his hands carrying the offending anti-Brahmin message: ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’. (IANS)