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Twitter Reflects Mood Of General Public

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.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.