Can a nation’s mood be determined by Twitter?

10 September 2013


According to the BBC, a team of British scientists from Loughborough University have been working on a computer program called Emotive that is able to scan 2,000 tweets a second, and then rates them for one of eight human emotions.

The idea is that Emotive will be used to track and take note of the mood of the nation which can help a government or police force handle potential criminal behaviour and threats to public safety.

The 8 emotions in which Emotive can extract from a Twitter post are anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame, and confusion.

Professor Jackson is the lead scientist in the research team, and says;

“Twitter is a very concise platform through which users express how they feel about a particular event, be that a criminal act, a new government policy or even a change in the weather.

Through the computer program we have created we can collate these expressions of feelings in real time, map them geographically and track how they develop”

The idea that a program can track emotions is a strange concept and one for which arguments can be made for and against the use of the data obtained.

If you are familiar with the Terminator films/franchise, or any other film or book where computers take over the world (The Matrix, IRobot), you may deem this thought to be over the top. But is this new program not recognising and collecting human emotions, and will a program then be built to interpret these emotions and act on them?

Is a program that collects and analyses human emotions a good idea?

Only time will tell……