Twit­ter Can Aid in Pre­dict­ing Crimes: Study


Twitter has been said to be a lot of things, from a micro blogging site where people express their thoughts in a few words or more recently the social media platform for trolls and cyber bullies. But a recent study has called it a place which can help in predicting crime.

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Since the tweets on the platform are public, they can be easily accessed to study and identify people engaged in criminal activity.

The researchers collected over 1.5 million public tweets pushed out between January and March 2013, tagged with Chicago-area GPS, and also collected the criminal records of that geographical area for that duration.

“People don’t share with the world that they intend to or have just committed a crime…(but) they do share are things like social events or outings that could lead to criminal activity”, said Matthew Gerber, Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia in the US.

The researchers then divided and mapped out the tweets and crime records onto a grid in order of common topics of discussion identified in the tweets.

Gerber combined conclusions from this analysis with older forecasting models to predict crimes over the next month.

“Some cities that utilise such methods as a basis for resource allocation have seen dramatic decreases in crime,” Gerber added.

The methodology successfully predicted 19 out of the 25 crime types. The study that was presented at Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore said that this methodology could be used to assist police departments in resource allocation.

While social media platforms have been used for all kinds of things from communicating to marketing brands and propagating propagandas — if viable — this seems like a new use that can be made of publically available information on social media platforms.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.