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Assessing Sentiment In Conflict Zones Through Social Media

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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While it is widely accepted that polling can assess levels of popular support in a geographic area by surveying a cross-segment of its population, it is less well accepted that analysts can use social media analysis to assess sentiment or popular support within the same space. We examine this question by comparing geographically anchored polling and social media data, utilizing over 1.4million geo-referenced messages sent through the Twitter network from Yemen over the period from October 2013 to January 2014, to assess both support for extremist groups and support to the Yemeni government. From our research, we conclude that social media data, when combined with polling, has a positive impact on analysis. It can also be a reliable source of stand-alone data for evaluating popular support under certain conditions. Therefore, we recommend future research projects focus on improving the quality of social media data and on operational changes to improve the integration of social media analysis into assessment plans.

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  • Information Science

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