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April 20, 2015

How Big Data is being applied to the General Election

The measurement of twitter sentiment is throwing up some predictions.

By Joao Lima

With thousands using social networks to express their views, Centre for the Analysis of Social Media created by think-tank Demos, is measuring behaviours on social media platforms.

Carl Miller, Research Director at Demos, told the BBC the platform "is a way of analysing hundreds of thousands of online conversations that we could never read ourselves but it should never be confused with an opinion poll."

During the debate with the seven party leaders Demos monitored Twitter activity identifying 420,000 relevant tweets using their algorithm.

The firm projected Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP as the night’s winner and put Prime Minister David Cameron at the bottom of the table.

The Demos model is based on technology developed by the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex. Using technology called Natural Language Processing, the algorithm is taught how to classify each tweet learning how to distinguish between an opinion and a statement of fact.

The team also employed a technique called network analysis to separate out clusters of journalists and political professionals who are tweeting each other.

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