Social media can be something of an indicator of the state of a nation's mentality, according to the latest research from Bristol University.
Academics from the university's Intelligent Systems Laboratory presented the results of their study, which encompassed a large section of the UK population, at a workshop held in France.
In total, some 484 million tweets from almost 10 million UK Twitter users, spanning a period of two and a half years (July 2009 through to January 2012) were analysed, using tools to measure the public's mood, and its changes.
It was found that there was a significant rise in negative mood indicators when the coalition announced public spending cuts, and indeed that negativity is still on-going. A noticeable dip in sentiment was also detected before last year's summer riots, and a slight positive effect on the run up to the royal wedding (everyone was looking forward to a day off, we guess).
Nello Cristianini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, commented on the study: "Social media allows for the easy gathering of large amounts of data generated by the public while communicating with each other."
"While we leave the interpretation of our findings to social and political scientists, we observed how the period preceding the royal wedding seems to be marked by a lowered incidence of anger and fear, which starts rising soon after that. Of course, other events also happened in early May 2011, so they may also be responsible for that increase."
The study authors intend to work further on the project, and compare social media mood indicators with traditional media, and opinion polls.