According to a study from the Indiana University’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, a mood analysis of millions of daily Twitter® posts is correlated to or “even predictive of DIJA [Dow Jones Industrial Average] values.” Johan Bollen, Huina Mao & Xiao-Jun Zeng, “Twitter Mood Predicts the Stock Market,” October 14, 2010. The researchers apparently applied OpinionFinder, which measures positive and negative mood, and the Google-Profile of Mood States, which measures six mood dimensions—calm, alert, sure, vital, kind, and happy—to nearly 10 million tweets posted by some 2.7 million users during a 10-month period in 2008. They purportedly found that “calm” data can match shifts in DIJA values that occur three to four days later with an 87.6 percent accuracy and contend that such analysis “offers an automatic, fast, free and large-scale addition to [the public mood market model] toolkit.”
And while market prognosticators might find Twitter® analyses useful, Malcolm Gladwell, writing in The New Yorker, makes a persuasive case that social media such as Twitter® and Facebook® are incapable of bringing people together to foment rebellion. He discusses the 1960 Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins and other civil rights protests to demonstrate that their success was due to the strong ties the participants had to each other, as well as the hierarchical organization, discipline and strategy that allowed individuals to take on a powerful and organized establishment. Gladwell suggests that social media, which are built around weak ties, “seldom lead to high-risk activism.” Social networks “have real difficulty reaching consensus and setting goals. They can’t think strategically; they are chronically prone to conflict and error.” While they can be good at giving people access to information, they do not “help us persevere in the face of danger.” See The New Yorker, October 4, 2010.