Twitter’s Electoral Masterstroke
BuzzFeed reports, I boggle:
Twitter is launching a tool today that it says will ... sort through the 400 million tweets a day from 140 million active users. Twitter and real-time search engine Topsy are launching the “Twitter Political Index,” a daily assessment of how Twitter feels about Obama and Romney, in an election cycle that’s being played out moment-to-moment on the social service.
The rough version of how it works: Topsy pores through every single tweet in real time, determines which ones are about Obama or Romney, and then assigns a sentiment score to each tweet based on its content. That is, whether it’s positive or negative toward Obama or Romney, and just how positive or negative it is.
That’s such a simple algorithm I could have written it myself. Just check for all caps and count the exclamation marks. Duh. Next.
Add all the data up together and you have something like a real-time approval score for Obama and Romney, determined by what tens of millions of people are saying, which Twitter is going to release daily at election.twitter.com.
The hell you say? A “real-time approval score”? Ah. Hang on. Weasel Alert. There’s a “something like” in the vicinity.
The index’s scale runs from zero to a hundred — higher is better — and Obama and Romney are measured individually, not against each other. So both could be over 50, or both could go up simultaneously. Or down simultaneously.
It’s not a head-to-head poll. “We are not actually measuring whether people prefer Romney to Obama or not,” says Ghosh. It’s just “a broad sentiment measure of what’s going on.”
I’ll tell you right now what’ll be going on: a bunch of gullible wingnuts spending all day every day tweeting and retweeting the most inflammatory crap they can invent or find, then checking out the Twitter Political Index on an hourly basis. Just like every day now. Only MOAR!!!!! And with an Index.
Bravo, Twitter! I’d been wondering if there was a way to preoccupy them even more pointlessly than usual till November and induce mass nervous exhaustion and RSI. That’ll do nicely till a better idea comes along. You cruel, wonderful bastards.
More: From the comments at the New York Times‘s Bits blog:
Fan of Twelect NYC
Maybe all the adults involved can chip in and send a box of chocolates to Peter Kazazes, the 16-year old kid who came up with this idea months ago and gave it away for free as an iPad app.