How Twitter can measure political opinions in the Middle East
We are all too familiar with how powerful Twitter can be for content marketing, but the social networking site has also become a good way to measure popular opinions in a way public polling cannot.
Twitter can give us the inside scoop on the outcome of an upcoming election, or the fan favourites for the Academy Awards or Super Bowl.
It can also be used to measure the general opinions of people inside the war-torn Syria and throughout the Middle East.
A new study by researchers at Princeton University found a strong level of anti-Americanism by analysing tweets in Arabic.
Researchers used a tool developed by social media analysts Crimson Hexagon, which has been used in the past to measure the presence of major events such as Cyclone Sandy in 2012.
The study looked at search terms and sample tweets of all the public tweets that mentioned the U.S.
By looking at Arabic tweets regarding the Syrian civil war, 97 percent were antagonistic toward the US, even though the views of the US aligned with many of the Arabic tweeters.
“Reactions to cases where the U.S. is influencing Middle Eastern affairs are 95 percent to 99 percent negative,” Keohane said, a professor of public and international affairs at Princeton and one of the researchers, but Arabic opinions of non-political events involving America were far less dominant.
“If you want to know how people in a given society who are on Twitter are reacting to events in real time, this is a great way to find out, so long as there is no systematic censorship,” said Keohane.
In fact, Twitter has taken on a major role of politics, being used not only for people to express their opinions, but also by political groups.
The political activist group Anonymous – a group of internet hackers that often adopt illegal but non-violent forms of protest against online censorship – has had a major impact on politics, especially in the Middle East.
During the Arab Spring – a political revolution in Arabic countries that began in 2010 – the Anonymous group intervened to allow freedom of speech over social media, according to Arabic news and current affairs broadcasters Al Jazeera.
“The desire to be able to speak freely about what is going on in your life is something that’s always there, but what we have with social media is the ability to amplify it,” she Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty’s international secretariat.
However, Twitter is also being used by terrorist groups to communicate with their followers or the general public, as is happening right now for the terrorist group ISIS.
As we can see, Twitter is not only a useful tool to for marketers to communicate with consumers, but it is also an effective way to find out the public’s opinions on major events.