The election result will not be Tweeted (in advance)

May 12, 2012

Thanks to the MIT Technology Review for making me aware of a paper by Daniel Cayo-Avello entitled “I Wanted to Predict Elections with Twitter and all I got was this Lousy Paper”. It provides the latest antidote to those who see social media as some sort of godsend for political participation and haven’t read the wonderful book ‘The Victorian Internet’ by Tom Standage which puts technology in its place, as just as what it is, technology.

As is stated in the conclusions:

  • Social media users are not an unbiased and representative sample of the voting population
  • Not everyone using social media is interested in or following politics
  • Just because it’s on social media doesn’t mean it’s true
  • Analysis of the humour and sarcasm within social media isn’t easy

This doesn’t mean social media aren’t a useful and expressive tool, it just means don’t read more into them than they are ever likely to deliver. The paper does provide a useful bibliography (and analysis) of the papers on the topic.