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From “I love you babe” to “leave me alone” – Romantic Relationship Breakups on Twitter

October 13, 2014 Comments off

From “I love you babe” to “leave me alone” – Romantic Relationship Breakups on Twitter
Source: arXiv.org

We use public data from Twitter to study the breakups of the romantic relationships of 661 couples. Couples are identified through profile references such as @user1 writing “@user2 is the best boyfriend ever!!”. Using this data set we find evidence for a number of existing hypotheses describing psychological processes including (i) pre-relationship closeness being indicative of post-relationship closeness, (ii) “stonewalling”, i.e., ignoring messages by a partner, being indicative of a pending breakup, and (iii) post-breakup depression. We also observe a previously undocumented phenomenon of “batch un-friending and being un-friended” where users who break up experience sudden drops of 15-20 followers and friends. Our work shows that public Twitter data can be used to gain new insights into psychological processes surrounding relationship dissolutions, something that most people go through at least once in their lifetime.

Hat tip: ResearchBuzz

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Participatory Budgeting: Ten Actions to Engage Citizens via Social Media

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Participatory Budgeting: Ten Actions to Engage Citizens via Social Media
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Participatory budgeting is an innovation in direct citizen participation in government decision-making that began 25 years ago in a town in Brazil.

It has since spread to 1,000 other cities worldwide and is gaining interest in U.S. cities as well.

Dr. Gordon’s report offers an overview of the state of participatory budgeting, and the potential value of integrating the use of social media into the participatory process design. Her report details three case studies of U.S. communities that have undertaken participatory budgeting initiatives. While these cases are relatively small in scope, they provide insights into what potential users need to consider if they wanted to develop their own initiatives.

Based on her research and observations, Dr. Gordon recommends ten actions community leaders can take to create the right participatory budgeting infrastructure to increase citizen participation and assess its impact. A key element in her recommendations is to proactively incorporate social media strategies.

Structured Information Extraction from Natural Disaster Events on Twitter

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Structured Information Extraction from Natural Disaster Events on Twitter
Source: Microsoft Research

As soon as natural disaster events happen, users are eager to know more about them. However, search engines currently provide a ten blue links interface for queries related to such events. Relevance of results for such queries can be significantly improved if users are shown a structured summary of the fresh events related to such queries. This would not just reduce the number of user clicks to get the relevant information but would also help users get updated with more fine grained attribute-level information.

Twitter is a great source that can be exploited for obtaining such fine-grained structured information for fresh natural disaster events. Such events are often reported on Twitter much earlier than on other news media. However, extracting such structured information from tweets is challenging because: 1. tweets are noisy and ambiguous; 2. there is no well defined schema for various types of natural disaster events; 3. it is not trivial to extract attribute-value pairs and facts from unstructured text; and 4. it is difficult to find good mappings between extracted attributes and attributes in the event schema.

We propose algorithms to extract attribute-value pairs, and also devise novel mechanisms to map such pairs to manually generated schemas for natural disaster events. Besides the tweet text, we also leverage text from URL links in the tweets to fill such schemas. Our schemas are temporal in nature and the values are updated whenever fresh information flows in from human sensors on Twitter. Evaluation on ∼58000 tweets for 20 events shows that our system can fill such event schemas with an F1 of ∼0.6.

Social Media and Political Activities: Guidance for Members of the Armed Forces

September 26, 2014 Comments off

Social Media and Political Activities: Guidance for Members of the Armed Forces (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Q1. What is the DoD policy regarding political activities by members of the Armed Forces?
A1. DoD has a longstanding policy of encourage military personnel to carry out the obligations of citizenship. However, AD members will not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel will avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.

Habitual Facebook Use and its Impact on Getting Deceived on Social Media

September 19, 2014 Comments off

Habitual Facebook Use and its Impact on Getting Deceived on Social Media
Source: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

There are a billion Facebook users worldwide with some individuals spending 8 hours each day on the platform. Limited research has, however, explored the consequences of such overuse. Even less research has examined the misuse of social media by criminals who are increasingly using social media to defraud individuals through phishing-type attacks. The current study focuses on Facebook habits and its determinants and the extent to which they ultimately influence individual susceptibility to social media phishing attacks. The results suggest that habitual Facebook use, founded on the individual frequently using Facebook, maintaining a large social network, and being deficient in their ability to regulate such behaviors, is the single biggest predictor of individual victimization in social media attacks.

Health Department Use of Social Media to Identify Foodborne Illness — Chicago, Illinois, 2013–2014

September 4, 2014 Comments off

Health Department Use of Social Media to Identify Foodborne Illness — Chicago, Illinois, 2013–2014
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

An estimated 55 million to 105 million persons in the United States experience acute gastroenteritis caused by foodborne illness each year, resulting in costs of $2–$4 billion annually (1). Many persons do not seek treatment, resulting in underreporting of the actual number of cases and cost of the illnesses (2). To prevent foodborne illness, local health departments nationwide license and inspect restaurants (3) and track and respond to foodborne illness complaints. New technology might allow health departments to engage with the public to improve foodborne illness surveillance (4). For example, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene examined restaurant reviews from an online review website to identify foodborne illness complaints (5). On March 23, 2013, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and its civic partners launched FoodBorne Chicago (6), a website (https://www.foodbornechicago.orgExternal Web Site Icon) aimed at improving food safety in Chicago by identifying and responding to complaints on Twitter about possible foodborne illnesses. In 10 months, project staff members responded to 270 Twitter messages (tweets) and provided links to the FoodBorne Chicago complaint form. A total of 193 complaints of possible foodborne illness were submitted through FoodBorne Chicago, and 133 restaurants in the city were inspected. Inspection reports indicated 21 (15.8%) restaurants failed inspection, and 33 (24.8%) passed with conditions indicating critical or serious violations. Eight tweets and 19 complaint forms to FoodBorne Chicago described seeking medical treatment. Collaboration between public health professionals and the public via social media might improve foodborne illness surveillance and response. CDPH is working to disseminate FoodBorne Chicago via freely available open source software.

The digital traces of bubbles: feedback cycles between socio-economic signals in the Bitcoin economy

August 27, 2014 Comments off

The digital traces of bubbles: feedback cycles between socio-economic signals in the Bitcoin economy (PDF)
Source: Journal of the Royal Society Interface (via ETH Risk Center – Working Paper Series)

What is the role of social interactions in the creation of price bubbles? Answering this question requires obtaining collective behavioural traces generated by the activity of a large number of actors. Digital currencies offer a unique possibility to measure socio-economic signals from such digital traces. Here, we focus on Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. Bitcoin has experienced periods of rapid increase in exchange rates (price) followed by sharp decline; we hypothesize that these fluctuations are largely driven by the interplay between different social phenomena. We thus quantify four socio-economic signals about Bitcoin from large datasets: price on online exchanges, volume of word-of-mouth communication in online social media, volume of information search and user base growth. By using vector autoregression, we identify two positive feedback loops that lead to price bubbles in the absence of exogenous stimuli: one driven by word of mouth, and the other by new Bitcoin adopters. We also observe that spikes in information search, presumably linked to external events, precede drastic price declines. Understanding the interplay between the socio-economic signals we measured can lead to applications beyond cryptocurrencies to other phenomena that leave digital footprints, such as online social network usage.

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