The Pros and Cons of Twitter: Analyzing and Manipulating Tweets

  • Twitter’s 200 million tweets per day are being analyzed to monitor political activity and employee morale, track flu outbreaks and food poisonings, map changes in moods around the world, predict box-office success or failure for new movies, and predict changes in the stock market.
  • Hewlett-Packard’s Social Computing Laboratory used Twitter to successfully forecast the box office of 24 films by analyzing “the intensity of the word-of-mouth” about them on Twitter. They are now looking at doing the same for other products.
  • The Twitter users are younger adults, more urban and less likely to have children, but there is enough diversity to make judgements from the Twitter’s 200 million user stream.
  • Twitter is also being used to manipulate public opinion. “Twitterbots” have been created to automatically generate messages and thereby attract large followings by building relationships with unsuspecting users.
  • “Network sociologists are worried that these newest contrivances may offer others a powerful way to manipulate people through Twitter on an even larger scale,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Doing this on Twitter with a thousand accounts or a million accounts is the next step,” said Indiana University computer scientist Jacob Ratkiewicz.