What’s Twitter’s Opinion of North Carolina Politics?

As a psychologist scientist, data enthusiast, and novice programmer, one of the things I’ve been really interested in lately is applying text-mining tools to social media to learn more about public opinion on important news stories and current events.

I know it’s cliche to say it, but social media is an incredibly powerful tool. Not only does it obviously allow friends, family, and colleagues to easily communicate and share information with one another in near real-time, but it also provides a rich storehouse of communications for researchers and data geeks, such as myself, to comb thorough and mine for interesting patterns in human behavior and human thought.

For instance, I’ve previously written about research demonstrating how Twitter can be used to predict the risk of dying from a heart attack in particular regions of the country. And more recently, I’ve done a bit of text-mining in Twitter to try to learn more about our President’s tweeting habit, such as the time of day he generally prefers to tweet (usually around 8:00 am EST), the most frequent words he uses when he tweets (“thank,” “great,” and “Hillary”),* and whether his tweets include mostly positive or mostly negative words (on average it’s split pretty evenly, actually).

So, with my political and scientific interests being what they are, I figured I would turn to Twitter to try to learn a little more about how people have perceived and reacted to the continuous flood of news stories that has been coming out of North Carolina recently. Read more “What’s Twitter’s Opinion of North Carolina Politics?”

The Week in Politics, According to Twitter

Well, this past week was an eventful one in U.S. politics.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, delved into yet another Twitter-related controversy on Saturday after tweeting an image of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, standing near a giant pile of cash and a word bubble conspicuously shaped like the Star of David. Critics immediately pounced on the imagery and accused Trump of anti-Semitism.

The Trump campaign quickly responded by deleting the tweet and replacing it with an altered version, which featured a circle rather than a star. But then, in a surprising display of apparent self-sabotage, Trump went on to defend the use of the six-pointed star, claiming in an angry speech that his campaign staffers “shouldn’t have taken it down” and that it’s “just a star.” Unfortunately for Trump, the Anti-Defamation League and 27 other Jewish organizations disagree. Read more “The Week in Politics, According to Twitter”

Using Twitter to Predict Heart Attack Deaths

Here’s a question for anyone who is active on Twitter, the popular microblogging website that allows users to share brief messages (called Tweets) with friends and followers: How would you characterize the tone of others in your social network, particularly those who live in your surrounding area?

Based on the Tweets you see in your feed, would you say people in your community are generally happy, depressed, anxious, angry, optimistic?

I ask because, as it turns out, Twitter reveals important information about a community’s psychological and physical health.

Read more “Using Twitter to Predict Heart Attack Deaths”