With over 10m active users in the UK, Twitter is increasingly becoming a voice of the people. Is this a representative view of the British public, and if so – could this sample provide us with a general feeling of public mood?
A recent study at the University of Bristol has used social media platform Twitter to gauge a sense of the national public sentiment.
Thomas Lansdall-Welfare and colleagues measured the emotional content of over 484million tweets from July 2009 to January 2012, categorising them into either joy, fear, anger and sadness.
Website Mood of the Nation provides analysis on the nations sentiment using this data using a timeline and facial expression.
Unsurprisingly, their findings showed spikes and drops around significant national events, such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween.
One-off events such as the Royal Wedding (surge) and budget cuts (slump) are also noted. Interestingly, a peak in anger occurs on 6th August 2011 – the first date of the London riots.
(Valentines Day however seems to be a mixture of anger and fear!?)
Could such a tool be used to predict the public mood and prevent events such as the riots from occuring again? Tell me your thoughts below.