A new computer program could help to calm civil unrest and identify early threats to public safety by analysing postings on Twitter and assessing public mood, academics have said.
The system can analyses 2,000 tweets a second to extract from each a direct expression of one of eight basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion.
The team who developed the program at Loughborough University’s new centre for information management said it could be possible to use the complex software, named Emotive, to geographically map the emotional mood of the nation and its reaction to big events.
Academics said using Emotive to geographically evaluate the mass mood could help police to track potential criminal behaviour or threats to public safety, and may be able to guide national policy on the best way to react to major incidents.
The system is currently only being used to analyse tweets in the UK, but it can easily be scaled up to monitor tweets globally, of which there are 10,000 a second.
The team has already secured further funding that will enable researchers to develop another prototype system that can automatically detect events, analyse emotions and extract more summary details of importance from social media.
It is also hoped academics can explore the possibility of predicting personality profiles from the natural language used on Twitter and similar social streams.
The Emotive project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.