Volume 111, Number 2, July 2015
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology|
|Published online||18 August 2015|
Internet comments as a barometer of public opinion
1 The Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Jerusalem 91904, Israel
2 The Unit of Nuclear Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev - Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
3 Department of Applied Physics, Soreq Nuclear Research Center (SNRC) - Yavne 81800, Israel
Received: 7 April 2015
Accepted: 21 July 2015
A new method is developed to estimate social influence in Internet communities that follow a specific developing news story. The technique stems from mean-field treatment of magnetic systems and provides a measure for community stability, such as the potential of a small perturbation to culminate in a phase-transition–like phenomenon. Three real cases of developing news stories from CNN news website are analyzed. Continuous dynamics of social influence together with time is observed together with a significant increase of social influence after the announcement of important information, such as the jury decision in a legal case. This work makes it possible to estimate the size of a group that can change the opinion of the entire population. We argue that Internet comments may predict the level of social response similar to a barometer that predicts the intensity of a coming storm in still calm environment.
PACS: 89.65.-s – Social and economic systems / 89.75.-k – Complex systems / 05.40.Ca – Noise
© EPLA, 2015
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