Data scientists launch free tools to analyze online trends, memes

Did more humans see #thedress as blue and black or white and gold? How many Twitter users wanted pop celebrity Katy Perry to take the #icebucketchallenge?

The power to explore on line social media actions — from the pop cultural to the political — with the identical algorithmic sophistication as top experts inside the discipline is now to be had to reporters, researchers and contributors of the public from a unfastened, user-pleasant online software program suite launched via scientists at Indiana University.

The Web-based tools, known as the Observatory on Social Media, or “OSoMe” (suggested “outstanding”), offer all of us with a web connection the power to research on-line traits, memes and different on line bursts of viral hobby.

An academic pre-print paper at the gear is to be had in the open-access magazine PeerJ.

“This software program and records mark a first-rate intention in our paintings on Internet memes and developments during the last six years,” said Filippo Menczer, director of the Middle for Complicated Networks and Structures Research and a professor inside the IU College of Informatics and Computing. The undertaking is supported through nearly $1 million from the Country wide Technology Basis.

“We are beginning to learn the way records spreads in social networks, what reasons a meme to move viral and what elements have an effect on the long-term survival of incorrect information online,” Menczer introduced. “The observatory gives a clean way to get admission to these insights from a huge, multi-year dataset.”

The new tools are:

Developments, which shows how memes upward push and fall in reputation.
Networks, which creates interactive graphs displaying who’s tweeting a meme and the way they’re related.
Movies, which generates animations on YouTube showing how memes spread and evolve over the years.
Maps, which creates a map pinpointing wherein within the international people are discussing a meme.
By using plugging #thedress into the machine, as an example, OSoMe will generate an interactive graph displaying connections among both the hashtag and the Twitter customers who participated within the debate over a dress whose coloration — white and gold or blue and black — changed into unusually ambiguous. The results display more people tagged #whiteandgold compared to #blueandblack.


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For the Ice Bucket Assignment, every other huge viral phenomenon — in which human beings doused themselves in bloodless water to elevate awareness about ALS — the software program generates an interactive graph showing How many people tweeted #icebucketchallenge at specific Twitter customers, inclusive of celebrities.

One example illustrates a co-prevalence community, wherein a unmarried hashtag comprises a “node” with lines showing connections to other related hashtags. The bigger the node, the greater famous the hashtag. The opposite instance illustrates a ramification network, wherein Twitter users show up as points on a graph, and retweets or mentions display up as connecting traces. The bigger a cluster of human beings tweeting a meme — or the extra strains displaying retweets and mentions — the greater viral the subject.

OSoMe’s social media tools are supported by a growing collection of 70 billion public tweets. The long-time period infrastructure to shop and maintain the facts is furnished by the IU community Technology Institute and Excessive Overall performance Computing institution at IU. The system does now not provide direct access to the content material of these tweets.

The institution that manages the infrastructure to store this data is led by using Geoffrey Fox, Distinguished Professor inside the School of Informatics and Computing. The group whose software analyzes the facts is led by means of Judy Qiu, a partner professor in the College.

“The collective production, intake and diffusion of data on social media reveals a huge portion of human social lifestyles — and is increasingly more appeared as a manner to ‘feel’ social tendencies,” Qiu said. “For the first time, the ability to discover ‘huge social information’ is open no longer simply to people with programming abilities but every person as smooth-to-use visible gear.”

In addition to popular culture traits, Menczer stated, OSoMe provides insight to many topics, inclusive of social moves or politics, as the on line unfold of data plays a more and more vital function in modern communication.

The IU researchers who created OSoMe also launched any other device, BotOrNot, in 2014. BotOrNot predicts the chance that a Twitter account is operated by using a human or a “social bot.” Bots are on-line bits of code used to create the impact that a real person is tweeting about a given topic, including a product or someone.

The OSoMe undertaking also offers a software program interface, or API, to help different researchers increase upon the equipment, or create “mash-ups” that combine its powers with different software program or records resources.