Social media can be a critical source of data to help explore the formation and evolution of public opinion. IIASA researchers are at the forefront of  exploring this field, leveraging platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) and Google combined with advanced statistics and machine learning to offer insights into the collective psyche of society.

In 2023, researchers from the Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group of the Advancing Analysis Program unveiled a new Social Media Intelligence Mining Tool. It carefully maps out information from social media data, identifies tendencies, and creates various indicators, facilitating our understanding of discourses, perceptions, and views in the digital age. The authors demonstrate that social media data helps to reveal patterns that are not possible to discern with other tools. The tool was used to scrutinize data from X, with particular focus on risk management and natural disasters. This provided policymakers with deep insights into  public sentiment, aiding in informed decision-making and policy formulation.

Furthermore, the researchers investigated how conspiracy theories surrounding natural disasters such as earthquakes spread. The study confirmed that bot-like accounts, a minority on X, are more active in spreading  earthquake conspiracies and are correlated with higher toxicity levels, indicating their potential for promoting disruptive behavior. Understanding people’s sentiments and their dynamics can help policymakers and social  media platforms implement effective strategies to combat the spread of conspiracy theories and prevent damage to public understanding of science.

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