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Twitter Launches Political Index

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the up-to-the-second-useless-information dept.

Twitter 86

colinneagle writes "Twitter today launched a new tool that leverages its estimated 400 million daily Tweets to gauge public opinion on the candidates for the 2012 presidential election. Progress in political polling is long overdue, and with Twitter providing a constant, international conversation for web users to join or leave at their own will, there may not be a better time than now to make that change. However, there are some concerns. One of the interesting points made in Twitter's description of its new tool is where it claims to be 'illustrating instances when unprompted, natural conversation deviates from responses to specific survey questions.' That assumes conversation on Twitter is natural. If parody accounts, Twitter trolls, and spam bots have taught us anything (and they usually don't), it's that Twitter conversation can be manipulated just as easily as it can be used naturally. How will Twitter distinguish between positive Tweets coming from voters or news outlets and those from spam bots designed to drive the conversation surrounding a candidate one way or the other? How easy could it be for an organization with a vested interest in positive poll numbers for one candidate to craft an army of Twitter bots designed to drive Barack Obama's positive numbers down, or vice versa? How many people reading the data, which is sure to make its way to TV news as election coverage increases in the coming months, will be aware that Tweets can be manipulated?"

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All the better to track the fall of Obama (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40846805)

Attention leftist free software hippies!

Romney worked for a living, built and managed businesses, provided jobs. Obama was/is a radical that has filled his administration with academics who never worked in the private sector and have absolutely no idea how to fix the economy that they f'd up. Go have another glass of koolaid that you bought with your food stamps, call your buddies on your Obama phone and hang on to your ass because come November, Obama and his minions are going to have it handed to them!

Re:All the better to track the fall of Obama (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848001)

Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure.

Re:All the better to track the fall of Obama (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848097)

Romney worked for a living, built and managed businesses, provided jobs

That sounds even more impressive than John Wayne, who is a Duke.
Anyway, -- so why is he giving up all that?!
Ah -- I see.

FYI Romney is a pussy.

Re:All the better to track the fall of Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40848787)

Romney . . . provided jobs.

In China.

Here in the US, he eliminated quite a few jobs.

Tweet this, bitches (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40846813)

I love Chick-fil-a and I love American gold metals

USA bitches

Re:Tweet this, bitches (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40846845)

Yes, USA are indeed a bunch of pissy little bitches. Well said, good sir.

Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated? (5, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#40846857)

If they have a bleeding story, no matter how fabricated or skewed it is, they'll run it.

If they don't, they'll simply be trumped by everyone else who WILL.

News agencies today are struggling under the lack of actual news-worthy content and feel the need to exploit ever more dubiously "newsworthy" events to fake the appearance of relevance.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (2)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847061)

What I wouldn't do for a "+1, Sad But True"

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40852285)

I'd rather have a +1 Master of Puppets.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847137)

I'd much prefer a news organization that is willing to admit "nothing really unusual happened today, here are the statistics of the day, but we're deeply average on everything." It would make the actual unusual events seem significant, instead of this constant crisis reporting style.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848923)

Actually this part caught my eye the most:

Progress in political polling is long overdue, and with Twitter providing a constant, international conversation for web users

I mean, this is an American Presidential elections...why would be give a fuck about what other countries think about who we should elect?

While many outside the US have an opinion on this, and we see it on /. quite often...why in the world should it be included in any poll for the US?

Why in the world would we want to let foreign interests influence our election?

Maybe I should assume that they will completely separate out non-US votes in these polls, which would be just fine, but my assumption was, they'd be lumping them in all together?

While it is nice to hear anyone's opinion, we shouldn't be letting any external countries hold any influence in who we decide to elect.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40852499)

Why in the world would we want to let foreign interests influence our election?

Perhaps because the effect that your narrow-mindedness will have on the other 95% of the World's population is significant?

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (4, Insightful)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847173)

News agencies today are struggling under the lack of actual news-worthy content and feel the need to exploit ever more dubiously "newsworthy" events to fake the appearance of relevance.

Hmm, maybe they could, I dunno, engage in actual journalism or something, instead of echoing press releases? That might help.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40861211)

engage in actual journalism or something, instead of echoing press releases

It's far worse than that. Almost all "news" is worthless, speculative, time-wasting trivia. Either that, or poorly-informed, badly thought out "opinion pieces". If you're bored on a weekend, try buying a "quality" newspaper, and cut out every article in it that you might honestly be able to say is important for you to know about or that contains reasoned argument supported by verifiable facts. Years of worthless "news" indoctrination makes this a tricky exercise. You might be tempted to think that knowing whether Michelle Obama has visited a school in the Bronx is important, or that a man who got drunk on board a flight to Norway is "news." No. It isn't. It's useless trivia. So friggin' what if Vladimir Putin is riding a quadbike? Why should I care? A self-important "editorial journalist" thinks family life has been eroded by video gaming because a single study funded by Families Against Video Games says it does. Are they proposing any further research on the subject to further test this hypothesis? Are they themselves an expert in the field? No? Then why the hell should I care about their personal opinion? Really - they should just fuck right off and the fact that they are even in print is an insult to anyone buying the paper.

I guarantee you that you will not be able to cut out more than five articles in any newspaper that actually answer the description of informative, actionable, relevant information about things that directly affect your life, or things that you might be able to affect should you choose.Yet we have conditioned ourselves to treat things like who wins an Olympic medal as more important than welfare reform. We're mesmerised by shit like whether Sylvester Stallone's son was a drug addict or not - as if it were something even remotely worthy of our attention. It's not - it's garbage. A total distraction. And a lot of storied that should be in the news aren't because of that.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847187)

I think that's probably true of Twitter themselves, too. This is an entertainment tool that succeeds if people pay attention to it, not really based on whether it predicts the election correctly (which nobody expects it to).

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847233)

It blows my mind how many news agencies report on content that's on Reddit.com's front page.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (3, Insightful)

Art Challenor (2621733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847919)

The purpose of news outlets is to sell advertising. The people who would be willing to absorb, understand and think about in-depth reporting are also the people who are likely to question the claims of the advertisers, do some independent research and decide whether they actually care to own a product before buying it - not a demographic you want to advertise to. The dumber the "news", the dumber the news audience, the better the advertising potential.

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (1)

dsvick (987919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848135)

I would even go so far as to say that the more skewed and outrageous the better from their standpoint. News, especially broadcast news has become so centered on ratings that the more wild, outlandish, or seemingly completely unbelievable the story the more likely they are to run it. And not only run but use it in all their commercials for the day, mention it prior to every commercial break during the actual broadcast, then finally air it as the very last thing so that when the viewers find out that is was complete and utter crap, it is too late for them to change channels.

Which is why I can't remember the last time I watched news on tv - instead I get it all from /. :)

Re:Why would news outlets CARE if it's manipulated (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849147)

News agencies today are struggling under the lack of actual news-worthy content and feel the need to exploit ever more dubiously "newsworthy" events to fake the appearance of relevance.

News agencies today are struggling under the pressure to make extraordinary profits by standards of how much news organizations made in the past.

News organizations were never supposed to be profit centers. Wealthy families who cared about their city or country started newspapers. Television and radio networks created news agencies in an effort to establish some level of prestige over their competitors. And because the FCC required them to provide programming in the public interest, news programs fulfilled that requirement.

But since the FCC as a regulatory body has had its power significantly lessened by decades of corporate and political pressure and since newspapers were bought by corporate conglomerates and expected to bring in a level of profit that they were never designed to, we've seen all the important news agencies corrupted and often abandoned.

The founding fathers of the US thought the dissemination of information, of "news" was so important that subsidizing it was one of their very first official acts as a new government. But today, the corporatization of news has diluted anything like journalistic purpose or ethics to the point where selling advertising takes a more important position than informing people.

Of course, the efforts on the Right to devalue expertise and objectivity has not helped.

Twitter is only used by a certain sub-group! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40846889)

What use is a index, that is only taken from 40+ men in their midlife crisis, PR/marketing companies and other groups that want to look "hip" and "with the young people"?
Nobody who's actually young, uses it. Ever.

Oh wait... It's not supposed to show the political climate, but create it. My bad.

Re:Twitter is only used by a certain sub-group! (3, Interesting)

Rewind (138843) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847091)

You seem to have a very odd notion of Twitter and how it is used. A large variety of people use it for an incredible diverse list of reasons. I use twitter, but I never 'tweet'. It just provides me with a simple single page where I can check for updates on various communities/podcasts/webshows that I follow. I have no idea why you think that only 40+ year old men use it.

Re:Twitter is only used by a certain sub-group! (1)

anarcobra (1551067) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849019)

I don't know a single person who uses twitter (that I know of). From my friends to my family to the people at work, none of them has given any indication of using it. Whenever it comes up and I ask people if they use it they say no. So as far as I can tell only celebs use twitter. That makes sense to me, since they need to do it for publicity and it's in or something.

Re:Twitter is only used by a certain sub-group! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847167)

I'm 22, and one of the few people I know around my age who don't use Twitter. Seems particularly popular among college women...that's who I always thought was the primary demographic...

Re:Twitter is only used by a certain sub-group! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40849601)

Tweet for Twats. I know, lets call it Twitter Twatter.

Re:Twitter is only used by a certain sub-group! (3, Informative)

t4ng* (1092951) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849243)

How about an actual study [pewinternet.org] on Twitter demographics instead of guessing and anecdotes?

Driving the conversation (2)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 2 years ago | (#40846901)

How will Twitter distinguish between positive Tweets coming from voters or news outlets and those from spam bots designed to drive the conversation surrounding a candidate one way or the other?

There's a difference? /s

Re:Driving the conversation (3, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847015)

Sure, news outlets are spambots with publicly traded stocks.

Re:Driving the conversation (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847921)

Probably by looking at the ratio of original tweets versus unique user retweets. I'd imagine the ratio to be far higher for a legitimate news outlet.

To tweet or not 2 tweet? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40846941)

I made a twitter account for myself over 2 years ago while using the same handle as othee email accounts. I lost/forgot the password and really don't care to ever tweet anything. Am I the only person who does not feel a 'need' to twit?

Re:To tweet or not 2 tweet? (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847189)

You are not alone. I have an account, but I dont know why. I have always thought that tweets, by definition, are the twittering of the pointless, and have never even checked for myself to see if my prejudice is correct.

Re:To tweet or not 2 tweet? (2)

dsvick (987919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848241)

I set up an account several years ago. Made a couple of dozen tweets and then realized that, not only did no one care about my tweets, but that there was no one that I could conceivably think of that I would care about that much to want to read everything they did. And for people that subscribe, or whatever it is, to more than one or two others must have no time in their day to do anything but read what is probably mostly drivel that is written by someone else who knows full well that no one really cares about what they writing.

It reminds me of this demotivator, it's for blogging but it still applies, http://www.despair.com/blogging.html [despair.com]

The Real Story Here (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40846969)

The real story here is that someone actually thinks posts on Twitter represent anything other than the mad ramblings of a fringe margin of society.

Re:The Real Story Here (2)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847411)

...the mad ramblings of a fringe margin of society.

Just wait; next they'll be judging public opinion off of Slashdot comments!

Re:The Real Story Here (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847839)

Maybe we'll get more than two choices that way.

Re:The Real Story Here (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847903)

I'm not sure why you think that the vast hoards of the marketing departments are a fringe margin of society. They seem all too common to me.

Flawed methodology (2, Insightful)

johnwbyrd (251699) | more than 2 years ago | (#40846979)

Fox News's darling for collecting poll data about political events is Rasmussen Reports. In Rasmussen Reports's methodology [rasmussenreports.com] , they make a series of random, pre-recorded calls to landline telephones. One sensible theory says that people who still have landline phones, and who take the time to do an automated random phone poll, tend to be older and retired. These people typically vote conservatively, thus causing Rasmussen's findings to be skewed conservatively.

Likewise, any sort of "polling" of Twitter results will probably not be statistically interesting, because not everyone uses Twitter. I find it utterly unsurprising that Twitter people discuss Obama far more frequently than Romney. However I don't think that these numbers can be extrapolated to the general election in any way.

trending hashtag analysis is a research area (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40846999)

A friend of mine just got a job doing some sophisticated, geo-ip indexed analysis of trending hashtags, which can be used for remarkably sophisticated real time marketing analysis. I don't know all the details because they're secret and he can't tell me too much but I know they can figure out in real time what is on the minds of people in various geographic areas. This can easily also be used for political analysis.

Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847001)

I feel like there are some overlooked issues here like my own inkling that there is a liberal bias to people who are online and "tweet" on a regular basis. I'd imagine a lot of people in "the heartland" that work in remote areas and vote predominantly conservative don't care about 140 character websites.

I'd also like to know how they would rate this following tweet (note: this is not my opinion on something, it's made up to illustrate a point):

Oh THANK GOD for Obamacare, now instead of barely making mortgage payments, I can pay for my neighbor's cancer treatments and default on my loans!

Clearly sarcasm but the first sentence fragment could easily be construed as positive or pro Obama by an unknown natural language parser. From the article:

Each day, the Index evaluates and weighs the sentiment of Tweets mentioning Obama or Romney relative to the more than 400 million Tweets sent on all other topics. For example, a score of 73 for a candidate indicates that Tweets containing their name or account name are on average more positive than 73 percent of all Tweets.

And what exactly does that tell me? That people are telling Romney where to shove his money or that they genuinely want to see him in office?

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (0)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847501)

Oh THANK GOD for Obamacare, now instead of barely making mortgage payments, I can pay for my neighbor's cancer treatments and default on my loans!

Chances are, if someone is using a candidate's name to make a new word out of it, it's probably not going to be positive.

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847769)

Too much of an assumption, as while I do make an effort to refer to it as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, other people who are supportive find themselves using the same language as the critics.

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848285)

And that is how Obamney is leading in the polls.

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848199)

Anybody who says that they can measure public sentiment with automated tools is selling snake oil. The semantic web is a million miles away from being here, and no amount of handwaving about the fact that they have a number negates the fact that the number is junk. Pure, total junk.

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40849647)

Obviously that would a Republican saying that. Liberals don't believe in God let alone thank them.

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40850393)

I feel like there are some overlooked issues here like my own inkling that there is a liberal bias to people who are online and "tweet" on a regular basis.

There's also a liberal bias to people living outside the US. AFAICT, they are not restricting the tweets under study to those made from inside the ultra-conservative US of A, where people use the word "liberal" as an insult.

Re:Accounting for Online Bias and Sarcasm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40853127)

I want to know why the polls never reflect 3rd parties. I for one DO NOT want to see another republicrat in the white house. Bush, Obama, and Romney are all part of the same plutocratic club and it's about damn time this country unites to put an end to this 2-party nonsense.

Silly (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847005)

Silly OP, tweets are for twits...

Re:Silly (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847065)

Please, please... We prefer to refer to them as 'low information voters' and treat them as our most valued customers, second only to the assorted interests who provide us with the money needed to buy their votes. No need to be rude.

On the internet... (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847013)

On the internet, nobody knows you're a marketing robot that has cloned itself 50,000 times on hundreds of internet forums and social media websites.

Nanu, nanu.

Selection bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847039)

Obviously this sampling will reflect only the aggregate opinion of people involved with Twitter. Which way do you suppose that bias will lean?

Better than fabricating [americanthinker.com] a polling bias, anyhow. Especially since it isn't likely to appear [cbsnews.com] as a credible in mainstream news.

Political polling is nonsense (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847073)

Bleep you, Frank! [youtube.com]

If Obama is polling at 48% to Romney's 47%, why would that have any effect on your voting decision? More to the point, why are campaigns obsessed with appearing like they're winning?

Re:Political polling is nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847207)

why are campaigns obsessed with appearing like they're winning?

To sway people straddling the fence. If a campaign looks like a loser, people will think twice before waddling to the voting station to case their vote.

I think they should just dump the electoral college and months of campaigning anyway and just toss a coin.

Re:Political polling is nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847259)

Because everyone wants to be on the winning team...and that's all politics is anymore to most people, a goddamn game that you either win or lose.

Re:Political polling is nonsense (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847865)

Bandwagon.

Centralized Comm is Perilous (3, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847163)

How many people reading the data, which is sure to make its way to TV news as election coverage increases in the coming months, will be aware that Tweets can be manipulated?

My estimate is rough, but I would put it well under 20%, based on conversations about the topic with average non-technical people.

This is an example of one of the indirect perils of centralized communications. Even without the central authority controlling the content, the power implicit in comm centralization becomes a weapon against the free mind. If we don't replace Twitter, Facebook, G+, Hotmail, and the rest with decentralized alternatives, our society will increasingly be influenced by entities with the means and desire to alter public opinion.

We need to be running the chat servers, photo buckets, and mail servers used by our friends and family who are less technically skilled. We need to get Diaspora (or a competitor) nodes running on a much larger scale. I am doing some, and I am scaling up as quickly as I can.

Decentralized comm does not magically and completely solve the problem, but at least it would not serve up the means to manipulate public opinion on a silver platter.

Re:Centralized Comm is Perilous (2)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847225)

Yes, a thousand times yes. "Freedom of the press is restricted to those owning a printing press."

Re:Centralized Comm is Perilous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847547)

With just two parties that are more-or-less equal in resources and power, the manipulation should cancel out. And just like phone polling, there is a demographic bias on twitter, G+, FB, etc - but as long as they are known, then you get obtain fairly accurate numbers with the same kind of statistical voodoo they use to adjust phone poll numbers.

Given that the correlation between the two candidates swamps the differences between them (on their daily chart), I think the error margin is at least +/- 20% - so still effectively useless.

Re:Centralized Comm is Perilous (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850597)

With just two parties that are more-or-less equal in resources and power, the manipulation should cancel out.

What about the stuff both parties agree on, e.g. that discourse should to remain within the boundaries of repubmocracy? It's just "good cop, bad cop", with the republicans being the bad cop for democrat voters, and the democrats being the bad cop for republican voters. When the management teams switch, like those tag teams in WWF, everybody is relieved/angry for a while.

What should worry you is how easily it got accepted that third (or fourth, fifth..) parties can never have a serious stab at anything. As long as this is true, you're fucked, and stuck between two groups that sliced up the pie, which is you, between them, while covering each other's backs -- and most importantly the rich on their ongoing, frenetic raid.

This isn't rocket science, it's not new, it's just not polite/appropriate conversation. At any rate, to suggest that competition ensures fairness is kind of naive... not everything called that way is actual competition, and not even actual competition magically makes everything fine.

Re:Centralized Comm is Perilous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847963)

but at least it would not serve up the means to manipulate public opinion on a silver platter.

Will it allow communication? Then it's offering the means to manipulate public opinion up on a silver platter. I'd argue decentralized control makes it even easier to manipulate the public. Instead of seeing Fox News or CNN (depending on your delusions) as being a single point of crazy, suddenly, you have tens, hundreds, thousands of people spewing the same repeated nonsense.

That many people think Obama's death panels are going to rise out of Bush's FEMA concentration camps and make George Washington cry by foisting sexless gay marriages and chicken upon us? Well, if this many people keep shouting about it, there must be some truth to it, right?

Re:Centralized Comm is Perilous (1)

vpness (921181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848261)

agreed. Especially if 'we' couldn't even get electronic voting machines sorted, this is just silly to think we could turn to an unregulated, for profit, free for all 'mechanism,' and return anything of value is scary. Think about it - the pro candidate A twitter.com company decides to prod pro-A voters into action by reporting tweets projecting a candidate B win a state. Not that what you said will stop anyone from reporting upon what twitter reports. Where's that dude from fivethirtyeight when you need him?

yu0 Fail It!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847211)

"But I won the Twitter vote!" (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847255)

Now whichever candidate loses the election can lament that he won the popular Twitter vote!

Re:"But I won the Twitter vote!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847539)

Al Gore will tell you it is just as important as winning the popular vote.

hm... (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847265)

"...drive Barack Obama's positive numbers down, or vice versa?"

I wonder what the effect of driving positive numbers' Barack Obama down would be.

Needs a better sample (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847273)

Why doesn't Twitter have any of the other parties listed? How would we know if there is an improvement in U.S. politics.

Re:Needs a better sample (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847353)

Because until the US switches to Ranked Choice Voting only 2 parties can ever be competitive. and the 2 parties that are will have no incentive to change the system to let in 3rd parties.

(not to mention that the libertarians would probably shy away from RCV as being unconstitutional)

Re:Needs a better sample (2)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847765)

Because until the US switches to Ranked Choice Voting only 2 parties can ever be competitive.

I hear this type of argument all the time. It's like excluding a candidate from the debates because their poll numbers aren't high enough. Did anyone ever consider that if they were included, their poll numbers would be higher? Case in point was Jesse Ventura who won as an independent in Minnesota. Getting into the gubernatorial debates was a key part of his being able to win.

Sure Tweets can be manipulated but... (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847329)

Anyone that's putting this much effort in will be aware of that and will be accounting for that in their scoring, topsy is driving this and they have a lot of spam experience.

Use betting odds (3, Interesting)

Alkonaut (604183) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847359)

A much better predictor is betting odds. Beats polls and any other index I have seen. As for the quality of twitter as a gauge of opinion, they just face a normal page rank problem. The weight of a quote about a candidate is determined by the rank of the account and the number of tweets from that account. The rank of the account depends on the followers and their rank, with validated accounts in the top. I didn't read tfa but it would surprise me if an algorithm like this isn't used. An army of bots would only have bots as followers. Just like splogs and other "ring" spam web sites. Deciding whether a tweet is good or bad is difficult. If you can't sense e.g. sarcasm in political tweets you will miss by a large margin. Doing that from 140 chars (plus history) would be a more impressive feat than using I for political indexes.

Re:Use betting odds (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847949)

I've been watching InTrade.com and it very interesting on all the races. You can bet on almost anything.

Not useful without additional data (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847367)

The graph does not provide any reason why a candidate would be trending on twitter.

Re:Not useful without additional data (1)

Ferante125 (971811) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847961)

The graph does not provide any reason why a candidate would be trending on twitter.

We have a project that is a bit more insightful about what is actually being classified as positive and negative:
http://politics.twittersentiment.org/streams/ [twittersentiment.org]
http://politics.twittersentiment.org/streams/stats.html [twittersentiment.org]

this is fantastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847449)

because neither I nor anyone I know discusses anything on Twitter, especially not political bullshit.

Of course, elections are about manipulation and there are always a bunch of antisocial, biased techie cunts who are prepared to write software to optimise the process and somehow justify their behaviour because "the ends justify the means" or "free rational minds wouldn't be tricked so there's no trickery involved".

so where is Gary Johnson (L)? Jill Stein (G)? etc? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847489)

Its one thing for coporate media to relagate discourse to only two 'approved' voices, but Twitter in theory should have no such obligation and should offer a far greater choice. Alas, the owners of this centralized star network think otherwise.

Re:so where is Gary Johnson (L)? Jill Stein (G)? e (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847701)

The corporate media does occasionally notice that Johnson and Stein are in the race. For instance, the New York Times [nytimes.com] actually gave some coverage to Jill Stein, and The Daily Show [thedailyshow.com] had a pretty interesting interview with Gary Johnson.

But that's the sad thing: their collective chance of getting serious attention is basically 0. I should also point out that the Greens and Libertarians, despite significant differences in ideology, regularly cooperate on trying to force their way onto ballots and into debates. I was chatting with a local Libertarian congressional candidate, and he talked about how he was coming off of a great debate with his Green counterpart.

Two Candidates (4, Insightful)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847555)

Yes, there are two candidates with a realistic chance to win, but there are more than two candidates in the election. I was actually a bit surprised when I went to the site and only saw Obama and Romney on there, with no mention at all of Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. So, I guess I need to reevaluate my understanding of where Twitter falls in relation to mainstream media outlets. It's apparently a lot closer than I thought.

Re:Two Candidates (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847965)

Yes, there are two candidates with a realistic chance to win

But only one agenda.

moD 3own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40847557)

share. FrreBSD 1s

Progress in polling overdue? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847645)

It seems to me that polling has been very destructive to the democratic process.  I don't want to improve it, I want to ban it.

Project at USC (1)

Ferante125 (971811) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847789)

We have a project at USC that we've been working on which is similar but we show a sample of the individual tweets that were classified:
http://politics.twittersentiment.org/streams/ [twittersentiment.org]
The system in the article doesn't show any of the data that they use to base the scores on, so it is effectively a black box. Also it lacks the entertainment value of seeing the sometimes funny twitter data. Also, ours is real time so it's interesting to watch during a debate.

Re:Project at USC (1)

Ferante125 (971811) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847877)

but we show a sample of the individual tweets that were classified

Here's the link to actual tweet data that is classified into positive/negative/neutral/unsure
http://politics.twittersentiment.org/streams/stats.html [twittersentiment.org]

Ad revenue (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847869)

That is all it is about.

Why only two candidates? Or, why this late? (0)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40847875)

I actually went to see "the tool" and it looks like Twitter is giving us the same old two choices (non-choices, in my opinion, but that is evident from my .signature ;-) ).

It would be much more interesting if it were launched a bit earlier in the season, or, at least, include all candidates remaining, including third parties.

At least Google Trends can give us a bit more interesting picture, e.g., this one: http://www.google.com/trends/?q=mitt+romney,+barack+obama,+ron+paul,+gary+johnson&ctab=0&geo=us&geor=all&date=ytd&sort=0 [google.com]

Paul B.

Bots? (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848269)

" How will Twitter distinguish between positive Tweets coming from voters or news outlets and those from spam bots designed to drive the conversation surrounding a candidate one way or the other? "

Follow the money.

Nearly all polls lie. (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40848969)

Nearly every presidential poll I've seen lists the current ratio of popular vote. But all that matters is the popular vote in 8 or 10 states where the electoral college outcome is in doubt. Why Twitter expects anyone with intelligence (oops, my bad) to think either that the national popular vote matters or that twits who tweet in any way represent a statistical valid sample is beyond me.

Blah blah blah (1)

BitHive (578094) | more than 2 years ago | (#40850989)

Let's look at this new Twitter site, shall we? The only clickable links I can see are to follow Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. There is no explanation of what the numbers mean or how they're calculated, nothing. I'm not even sure what they were trying to achieve because the page has no information or context on it at all. This is garbage.

Bad precident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40854375)

Nothing but bad will come from this.
I already see local city councils who reject the public debates to those who do not have facebook, twitter or google+ if your not a member, you can't comment.

Don't believe me? Scroll to the bottom of the page here. http://www.ca.gov/ See under "Connect With Us?"
Okay that just lists them all.
But I have seen live events where people were denied access just because they not members of one of the big three government spies.
Keep looking, you'll see I'm right. Look for the townhall meetings that you can't participate in.

This is straight up part of the electronic warfare our officials are using against us. (like those template'd email replies from those oath breaking Senators)

But you can go ahead and pretend this ain't happening, after all I am just a paranoid kook right?

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