In the era of digital communication, myriads of social media and web platforms can be used as vital sources of data, which can help us explore the patterns of how public opinion and reactions are shaped, how new trends emerge, and how the market dynamics work. Being at the forefront of exploring this promising field, IIASA researchers Hossein Hassani and Nadejda Komendantova explain what social intelligence mining is and how can it be used for our collective benefit.

Everyone uses social media. Whether you are on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), or any other platform — we are all contributing to a large collective pool of data. A lot of this data is fun, but completely useless: cat pictures, competitive eating videos, wilderness survival tips... But quite a lot of seemingly useless data could actually help us understand how our interactions online shape the society in a broader sense.

In the recent decades the landscape of online networks has changed drastically, largely due to the popularization of social media platforms. Recent estimates show that an average internet user has at least 8 different social media accounts on different platforms. But why do we like them so much? Social media platforms are more open and creative than other corners of the internet, giving us the flexibility to express ourselves in a more natural manner. One can say they redefined the way we interact online, mimicking real-life interactions. Nowadays, online platforms play a vital role in our society by providing an open space where people can freely share information, express their opinions on events, policies, and other topics, thereby inevitably shaping public discourse and influencing societal trends.

Social intelligence mining is the process of obtaining big data from user-generated content, such as social media posts, to identify social trends or form better understanding of public sentiments and communication patterns. Utilizing this new method could help empower businesses, organizations, and researchers to harness the vast amount of data available on social media platforms to make informed decisions, manage their brand, engage with their audience, and adapt to a rapidly changing digital landscape. Being both promising and innovative as an emerging source of big data, social intelligence mining could not have missed the interest of IIASA researchers.

Last year, scientists from the Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT) Research Group in the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) Program proudly unveiled a brand new Social Media Intelligence Mining Tool, which was created to help harnessing insights from platforms like X, Google, and different news outlets. This app represents a significant advancement in the field of social intelligence mining and has been successfully applied across various disciplines.

IIASA takes pride in showcasing the capabilities of the tool — just recently it has been presented at a UN ESCAP Seminar “Mining Public Perception: Advanced Analytics in Big Data”, which featured Hossein Hassani and Nadejda Komendantova as speakers. A key focus of the discussion was on AI ethics and data privacy, addressing the critical challenges posed in the digital landscape. The event brought together professionals, researchers, and scientists with a passion for AI, machine learning, data science, analytics, and public policy.

In addition, the tool has recently been used to scrutinize the data from X, with particular focus on risk management, earthquakes, and disasters in general. The results of the study have been featured in Machine Learning and Knowledge Extraction, which is a top journal in the area of on machine learning and applications.


Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the IIASA blog, nor of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.