The Election’s Most Powerful Tool
Twitter, using the search engine Topsy, initiated the Twitter Political Index on Wednesday. As BuzzFeed reports, the index provides a real-time assessment of how users feel about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The index will sort through every tweet posted per day, first determining which candidate the tweet references, then assigning a thermometer score rating (0 for negative, 100 for positive).
The index provides the most up-to-date, continuous assessment of Twitter sentiment toward the presidential candidates. Since Twitter has 140 million active users, this creates a pool of participants which vastly exceeds any used by traditional opinion polls. Twitter also has the advantage of being able to reach users who primarily use a mobile phone, a demographic largely inaccessible to pollsters.
For all of its pros, why is it that all I can see are the disadvantages?
First off, yes, there are a lot of Twitter users. But just how many tweet about politics? And out of those who do, how many are American citizens? How many are voters? Or even of age to vote?
Secondly, as BuzzFeed’s Matt Buchanan points out, while it may be true that the TPI reaches mobile device users, let’s take a look at the user demographic– it’s no surprise that the majority of Twitter users are young. It’s also no surprise that the majority of liberals are young. The index could easily be getting most of its data from liberals, as opposed to random sampling techniques used in opinion polls.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the entire foundation of the TPI is based around the single premise that computers have the capacity to determine the essence of human meaning. Alan Turing would surely be impressed. But I don’t buy it. How can a machine accurately rate the feelings of a 140-character tweet?
I hope these weaknesses (should they be broken down into 140 characters) prove to be petty. If so, Twitter could have just created one of the most powerful opinion measurement tools in history.
Share this article
You might also like:
Want to watch a horror movie? Well, there’s now an app for that.
Filmmaker Neal Edelstein has made a horror film called Haunting Melissa that has been released as an app for the iPad 2. As Lucas Shaw describes it for The Wrap, it brings the concept into the 21st century:
“Horror films are all about surrendering control, as the viewer yields to the filmmaker for every twist, turn and fright.”
As a twentysomething woman, I’m always interested to see–when female friends get married–if they make the name change or keep their maiden name.
These days, that decision is usually announced by making it “Facebook official,” by simply changing the relationship status, or changing the last name along with it.
Using these data points, and women’s birth dates, Facebook analyzed what percentage of women from different age groups are taking their husbands’ last names, hyphenating their names or keeping their maiden names. The results were announced on the Facebook Data Science page this week.
Is the social blogging site Tumblr about to sell out?
Ad Week’s Mike Shields has the story that Tumblr has been having negotiations about being acquired by Yahoo.
As Shields reports, a deal could make sense for both companies:
“Yahoo is in serious talks with Tumblr to acquire the social blogging site, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The deal is not done, but could reach as high as $1 billion, Adweek has learned. Allthingsd.com was first to report on the talks between the two companies.”
I’m a criminal for being a woman, a journalist and someone with the temerity to walk into a bar.
In a fascinating study of both Facebook and freedom, Amnesty International New Zealand launched “Trial by Facebook,” which examines your profile, scours your timeline and “interrogates” yourfriends to find out what you’d be punished for posting, all around the
world. The app came out several months ago, but it’s been making waves
online this week.
Using my own Facebook page as a guinea pig, I found myself convicted 161 times, in 73 countries, for 13 crimes. Literally dodging a bullet, the
contents of my profiles weren’t tawdry enough to get me beheaded or shot dead, but I would be killed by extremists 22 times, sexually assaulted 16 times, imprisoned 58 times and beaten 73 times–and that’s just the beginning of the terror.
Tatiana Aders of Social Media News has made my day. If you don’t quite get how to use Google Plus, help is here:
“Google Plus has some of the most robust posting & sharing capabilities of any social network. From rich snippets to photo editing to individual circles, there are so many features that can make your post stand out from the pack. Here are some highlights from a cheat sheet that I built to get the most out of Google Plus posts.”