Wefeel: A Twitter tool that gauges ‘Mass moods’

A new Twitter tool has been launched by Australian Scientists, that can track mass moods globally and in real time, according to an Economic Times report.

Called as ‘We feel’, It can help people understand how their moods and emotions vary over time, vis-a-vis the change in the social, economic and environmental factors around them like – weather, time of the day or the news of a  political upheaval or natural disaster.

The researchers at Black Dog Institute and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation ( CSIRO),  believe that the real-time mapping of moods across the globe can help allocate mental health services in  a specific geographic location or community. It is said that potential life-saving health services can be targeted towards a particularly ‘sad’ or ‘depressed’ community. This new tool will also help monitor collective mood changes and analyse the various triggers that lead to mood alterations.

This tool can analyse up to 32,000 tweets per minute – about 10 per cent of all English-language tweets – for 600 words. The words are crowdsourced and thereby linked to common but hierarchical set of six emotions – love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear.

All tweets by the public, that mention any of these emotions, are then mapped into one of the six terms and categorised by time, country or time zone. The app will analyse The data of  over 255 million active users worldwide, with the help of Amazons tool for real time processor of big data – Kinesis. These emotions are then displayed in a streamgraph. A report shall be submitted to the New South Wales Mental Health Commission at the end of the project.

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Professor Helen Christensen, Black Dog Institute Director, stated that  ‘We Feel’ will be the world’s first attempt at understanding and tracking mental health by analysing social media. Earlier, some researchers had studied and analysed blogs to measure the happiness quotient of the world.

On the downside, the project can analyse the tweets made in the English language only and the data on gender, identity and location of some of the users may not be available. Also, the team acknowledged that they only had rough access to accounts in Australia and this method was tough to implement in North America, for example.

Another major drawback of this concept could be that it is incapable of comprehending the context of emotion – sincerity or sarcasm. If it aims to help people suffering from depression, we already know that they usually  do not talk or share. To make up for this limitation, the team is looking at tapping other big platforms as well, like FaceBook and Tumblr – to bridge the gap between what people feel and what they share.

Project researcher at the Black Dog Institute, Bridianne O’Dea said that all said and done, this may be the first time that a tool was being used to better understand people who use Twitter as a platform to tweet about emotions.

Users can access the ‘We Feel’ tool at wefeel.csiro.au.

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