Beware Twitter Users: Your Tweets Help the Government Predict the Future

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Top Tier Gear USA

crystal ball

When it comes to whatever social media platform we use on a regular basis, most of us take it for granted that these websites are spying on us in some capacity. Granted, many social media users don’t know or don’t care, but everyone else at least implicitly agrees that in exchange for using these website for free, their posts will be data mined for information that can be used to target them with ads.

However, the personal information and opinions that we put out on social media doesn’t just provide commercial opportunities for advertisers. It’s a veritable goldmine for governments as well. Everything that people used to keep to themselves in previous generations, is now willingly shouted into the internet abyss for all to hear. Social media users often feel free to share their most controversial, subversive, and inflammatory thoughts on a platform that could reach millions of people. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it, but it’s the world we live in today.

Governments of course, love this. People say things on the internet, that in years past would require a warrant to discover. Law enforcement would have to get permission from a judge to tap someone’s phone, or search their house for diaries and letters that would give them a damning insight into that person’s psychology and intentions. Now we just give it away for free.

Obviously, this makes it very easy for the government to identify individual threats. Somebody can talk about overthrowing the government on social media, and either they’ll be reported or some NSA algorithm will pick them up, and add their comments to a threat matrix. But social media has the potential to give the government so much more. It can also give them an insight into the collective desires of the masses.

A new study was recently conducted by Arizona State University, Texas A&M, and Yahoo, which discovered that with the right algorithm, you can predict with 70% accuracy, the probability that any given Twitter user is going post something that is part of a protest. They could use this information to predict a protest movement in the real world, as well as how big it will eventually become.

The researchers collected 2,686 posts related to the Nigerian general election that took place between February and April of last year, an election that was marred by political violence in the form of the Boko Haram insurgency and that was beset by accusations of voting irregularities. So what predicts when someone begins protesting on Twitter? It’s not your personal history so much as your Twitter history of interacting with people who are part of that movement.

“The interaction we study is how users mention each other,” researchers Suhas Ranganath and Fred Morstatter wrote to Defense One in an email. “In the model, the probability of the future post expressing protest increases if: 1) The post mentioning the user is related to the protest. 2) The author of the post mentioning the user is interested in the protest. We dynamically learn [or teach] the model by testing how each of the previous status messages of the given user are affected by the recent posts mentioning him. We then use the model to predict the likelihood of the user expressing protest in his next post.”

Their accuracy threshold of 70 percent is because what might seem completely unpredictable is in fact part of a pattern, albeit one that’s incredibly complex. The researchers employed Brownian motion theory to design the formula, a theory that usually is employed to track the movement of particles, as well as model stock market fluctuations and other highly complicated systems. “Brownian Motion for fluid particles models change in the direction of the particle movement  on collision with other particles. We take each ‘particle’ as a social media user. We relate collision with other particles, other users mentioning him, and the change in direction to change of the user’s inclination to express protest in his next post. We then use the models of Brownian motion to relate the two quantities. We mainly employ this to model the dynamic change in user behavior resulting from interactions over time,” Suhas told Defense One.

I might add that it wasn’t just some university or a private company that decided to fund this study. The Office of Naval Research chipped in as well, so clearly the government is interested in this sort of thing.

For them, social media is a powerful tool. The deeply personal opinions that you might shout into the internet, gives the government the power of prognostication. And as computer technology advances, they will be able to do better than 70%. They’ll be able to look at the information you post on social media, compare that to what everyone else is saying, and they’ll be able to predict wars, protests, and revolutions long before they occur. And that’s an incredibly dangerous power for any government to have.

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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.

Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .

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  • has we have seen from the prosecution of Patriots in Oregon any and all social media posts can and will be used has evidence against you in a court of ‘law’

    • Chasityrupchurch

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  • Right to the Point

    The problem with “Behavior Analysis” is that it’s predicated on the subjects being criminals first…..

    • Reverend Draco

      The people involved are of a criminal mindset – so it’s only natural that they project their character flaws on everyone else. . . not knowing that there are healthier mental states. . .

      • Competent behavioral analysis always takes advantage of the character flaws of those whose behavior is being analyzed. It wouldn’t work otherwise. It need not be criminal behavior.

        • “Competent behavioral analysis” LOL no such animal since every individuals mind is different people can not be categorized and labeled Psychology is has much a science as Professional wrestling is a sport…… The lunatics have reached the point where ANY human emotion can be a symptom of mental illness and the medications they over proscribe cause suicides and mass shootings…….

          • Ignorance makes for the most reliably predictable behavior.

          • well it seems you are a expert in ignorance so I will take your word for it .

          • Since you only have ad hominem to use when engaging in your otherwise unsupported allegations and premises, that will have to stand as your opus magnum.

          • LOL don’t waste all your $5 words ! you pseudo intellectuals are a hoot!

          • I have never paid for a word, I leave that to those whose vocabulary wouldn’t get them into junior high.

          • you are not real bright are you ?

          • Judging by your lack of grammatical skills, I wouldn’t be looking for your light on the dark Christmas tree.

          • yep my grammatical skills , a symptom of a rare form of dyslexia, vexed my professors to no end but it did not negate the fact my reading and comprehension level was post graduate while I was still in grade school………FYI big head does not equate to big brain you are not near has smart as you think you are ….. .

          • Post grade school graduate level isn’t anything to hoot about, especially if you have to use your failure to rise above your disabilities and ad hominem to make others respect them instead of your intelligence. I don’t trade on my intelligence, I make every effort to learn what I don’t know, and being smart is less important than being knowledgeable. IQ is a measurement of the ability to add A and B to get C. If you don’t know what A or B is, intelligence will not avail C.

          • LOL you lack even basic reading comprehension and yet you are talking smack along little boy your ignorance is nauseating . I was reading high school textbooks for fun in kindergarten .

          • If you are nauseated, you can get your stomach as empty as your head is.

    • Criminals are the only ones that have behavior?

    • Guy Stumpman

      Under this govt, we’re all considered criminals.

  • Guillotine_ready

    Now I understand why the gov is out of whack, they use the tweets of the moronic masses in the US to predict the future. Wow what could go wrong there?

  • Dunno y

    If you cant predict a persons post habits then your an idiot. High school teaches everyones into something even if its themselves der. Now the navy wants to have a shot at what I could have told them for free. Washington generates 1000s of tweets a day through its own servers to alter outcomes and sway opinion. Europe’s nationalist movements are one example. Twitter is highly dangerous for this activity and allowing the gov to maintain deception it needs a lightning bolt zapped up its core. Its simply not trust worthy to value Twitter as an opinion tool.

    • No more 140 character snippets of pure wisdom? 🙂

      • Dunno y

        Yep Twitter and I dont get on. I talk to much :)))lol. Your right thou. Its a classic resource tool.

  • My real name is full of fake interests.