Apr 05 2018 cs.CY
Concerns have reached the mainstream about how social media are affecting political outcomes. One trajectory for this is the exposure of politicians to online abuse. In this paper we use 1.4 million tweets from the months before the 2015 and 2017 UK general elections to explore the abuse directed at politicians. This collection allows us to look at abuse broken down by both party and gender and aimed at specific Members of Parliament. It also allows us to investigate the characteristics of those who send abuse and their topics of interest. Results show that in both absolute and proportional terms, abuse increased substantially in 2017 compared with 2015. Abusive replies are somewhat less directed at women and those not in the currently governing party. Those who send the abuse may be issue-focused, or they may repeatedly target an individual. In the latter category, accounts are more likely to be throwaway. Those sending abuse have a wide range of topical triggers, including borders and terrorism.
Jan 30 2018 cs.CL
Crisis responders are increasingly using social media, data and other digital sources of information to build a situational understanding of a crisis situation in order to design an effective response. However with the increased availability of such data, the challenge of identifying relevant information from it also increases. This paper presents a successful automatic approach to handling this problem. Messages are filtered for informativeness based on a definition of the concept drawn from prior research and crisis response experts. Informative messages are tagged for actionable data -- for example, people in need, threats to rescue efforts, changes in environment, and so on. In all, eight categories of actionability are identified. The two components -- informativeness and actionability classification -- are packaged together as an openly-available tool called Emina (Emergent Informativeness and Actionability).
Rumour stance classification, defined as classifying the stance of specific social media posts into one of supporting, denying, querying or commenting on an earlier post, is becoming of increasing interest to researchers. While most previous work has focused on using individual tweets as classifier inputs, here we report on the performance of sequential classifiers that exploit the discourse features inherent in social media interactions or 'conversational threads'. Testing the effectiveness of four sequential classifiers -- Hawkes Processes, Linear-Chain Conditional Random Fields (Linear CRF), Tree-Structured Conditional Random Fields (Tree CRF) and Long Short Term Memory networks (LSTM) -- on eight datasets associated with breaking news stories, and looking at different types of local and contextual features, our work sheds new light on the development of accurate stance classifiers. We show that sequential classifiers that exploit the use of discourse properties in social media conversations while using only local features, outperform non-sequential classifiers. Furthermore, we show that LSTM using a reduced set of features can outperform the other sequential classifiers; this performance is consistent across datasets and across types of stances. To conclude, our work also analyses the different features under study, identifying those that best help characterise and distinguish between stances, such as supporting tweets being more likely to be accompanied by evidence than denying tweets. We also set forth a number of directions for future research.
Aug 18 2017 cs.CL
Stance classification determines the attitude, or stance, in a (typically short) text. The task has powerful applications, such as the detection of fake news or the automatic extraction of attitudes toward entities or events in the media. This paper describes a surprisingly simple and efficient classification approach to open stance classification in Twitter, for rumour and veracity classification. The approach profits from a novel set of automatically identifiable problem-specific features, which significantly boost classifier accuracy and achieve above state-of-the-art results on recent benchmark datasets. This calls into question the value of using complex sophisticated models for stance classification without first doing informed feature extraction.
Usage of online textual media is steadily increasing. Daily, more and more news stories, blog posts and scientific articles are added to the online volumes. These are all freely accessible and have been employed extensively in multiple research areas, e.g. automatic text summarization, information retrieval, information extraction, etc. Meanwhile, online debate forums have recently become popular, but have remained largely unexplored. For this reason, there are no sufficient resources of annotated debate data available for conducting research in this genre. In this paper, we collected and annotated debate data for an automatic summarization task. Similar to extractive gold standard summary generation our data contains sentences worthy to include into a summary. Five human annotators performed this task. Inter-annotator agreement, based on semantic similarity, is 36% for Cohen's kappa and 48% for Krippendorff's alpha. Moreover, we also implement an extractive summarization system for online debates and discuss prominent features for the task of summarizing online debate data automatically.
Debate summarization is one of the novel and challenging research areas in automatic text summarization which has been largely unexplored. In this paper, we develop a debate summarization pipeline to summarize key topics which are discussed or argued in the two opposing sides of online debates. We view that the generation of debate summaries can be achieved by clustering, cluster labeling, and visualization. In our work, we investigate two different clustering approaches for the generation of the summaries. In the first approach, we generate the summaries by applying purely term-based clustering and cluster labeling. The second approach makes use of X-means for clustering and Mutual Information for labeling the clusters. Both approaches are driven by ontologies. We visualize the results using bar charts. We think that our results are a smooth entry for users aiming to receive the first impression about what is discussed within a debate topic containing waste number of argumentations.
Media is full of false claims. Even Oxford Dictionaries named "post-truth" as the word of 2016. This makes it more important than ever to build systems that can identify the veracity of a story, and the kind of discourse there is around it. RumourEval is a SemEval shared task that aims to identify and handle rumours and reactions to them, in text. We present an annotation scheme, a large dataset covering multiple topics - each having their own families of claims and replies - and use these to pose two concrete challenges as well as the results achieved by participants on these challenges.
Despite the increasing use of social media platforms for information and news gathering, its unmoderated nature often leads to the emergence and spread of rumours, i.e. pieces of information that are unverified at the time of posting. At the same time, the openness of social media platforms provides opportunities to study how users share and discuss rumours, and to explore how natural language processing and data mining techniques may be used to find ways of determining their veracity. In this survey we introduce and discuss two types of rumours that circulate on social media; long-standing rumours that circulate for long periods of time, and newly-emerging rumours spawned during fast-paced events such as breaking news, where reports are released piecemeal and often with an unverified status in their early stages. We provide an overview of research into social media rumours with the ultimate goal of developing a rumour classification system that consists of four components: rumour detection, rumour tracking, rumour stance classification and rumour veracity classification. We delve into the approaches presented in the scientific literature for the development of each of these four components. We summarise the efforts and achievements so far towards the development of rumour classification systems and conclude with suggestions for avenues for future research in social media mining for detection and resolution of rumours.
Jan 12 2017 cs.CL
Named Entity Recognition (NER) is a key NLP task, which is all the more challenging on Web and user-generated content with their diverse and continuously changing language. This paper aims to quantify how this diversity impacts state-of-the-art NER methods, by measuring named entity (NE) and context variability, feature sparsity, and their effects on precision and recall. In particular, our findings indicate that NER approaches struggle to generalise in diverse genres with limited training data. Unseen NEs, in particular, play an important role, which have a higher incidence in diverse genres such as social media than in more regular genres such as newswire. Coupled with a higher incidence of unseen features more generally and the lack of large training corpora, this leads to significantly lower F1 scores for diverse genres as compared to more regular ones. We also find that leading systems rely heavily on surface forms found in training data, having problems generalising beyond these, and offer explanations for this observation.
Social media tend to be rife with rumours while new reports are released piecemeal during breaking news. Interestingly, one can mine multiple reactions expressed by social media users in those situations, exploring their stance towards rumours, ultimately enabling the flagging of highly disputed rumours as being potentially false. In this work, we set out to develop an automated, supervised classifier that uses multi-task learning to classify the stance expressed in each individual tweet in a rumourous conversation as either supporting, denying or questioning the rumour. Using a classifier based on Gaussian Processes, and exploring its effectiveness on two datasets with very different characteristics and varying distributions of stances, we show that our approach consistently outperforms competitive baseline classifiers. Our classifier is especially effective in estimating the distribution of different types of stance associated with a given rumour, which we set forth as a desired characteristic for a rumour-tracking system that will warn both ordinary users of Twitter and professional news practitioners when a rumour is being rebutted.
Stance detection is the task of classifying the attitude expressed in a text towards a target such as Hillary Clinton to be "positive", negative" or "neutral". Previous work has assumed that either the target is mentioned in the text or that training data for every target is given. This paper considers the more challenging version of this task, where targets are not always mentioned and no training data is available for the test targets. We experiment with conditional LSTM encoding, which builds a representation of the tweet that is dependent on the target, and demonstrate that it outperforms encoding the tweet and the target independently. Performance is improved further when the conditional model is augmented with bidirectional encoding. We evaluate our approach on the SemEval 2016 Task 6 Twitter Stance Detection corpus achieving performance second best only to a system trained on semi-automatically labelled tweets for the test target. When such weak supervision is added, our approach achieves state-of-the-art results.
Social media has now become the de facto information source on real world events. The challenge, however, due to the high volume and velocity nature of social media streams, is in how to follow all posts pertaining to a given event over time, a task referred to as story detection. Moreover, there are often several different stories pertaining to a given event, which we refer to as sub-stories and the corresponding task of their automatic detection as sub-story detection. This paper proposes hierarchical Dirichlet processes (HDP), a probabilistic topic model, as an effective method for automatic sub-story detection. HDP can learn sub-topics associated with sub-stories which enables it to handle subtle variations in sub-stories. It is compared with state- of-the-art story detection approaches based on locality sensitive hashing and spectral clustering. We demonstrate the superior performance of HDP for sub-story detection on real world Twitter data sets using various evaluation measures. The ability of HDP to learn sub-topics helps it to recall the sub- stories with high precision. Another contribution of this paper is in demonstrating that the conversational structures within the Twitter stream can be used to improve sub-story detection performance significantly.
Nov 11 2015 cs.CL
This paper describes a pilot NER system for Twitter, comprising the USFD system entry to the W-NUT 2015 NER shared task. The goal is to correctly label entities in a tweet dataset, using an inventory of ten types. We employ structured learning, drawing on gazetteers taken from Linked Data, and on unsupervised clustering features, and attempting to compensate for stylistic and topic drift - a key challenge in social media text. Our result is competitive; we provide an analysis of the components of our methodology, and an examination of the target dataset in the context of this task.
Social media is a rich source of rumours and corresponding community reactions. Rumours reflect different characteristics, some shared and some individual. We formulate the problem of classifying tweet level judgements of rumours as a supervised learning task. Both supervised and unsupervised domain adaptation are considered, in which tweets from a rumour are classified on the basis of other annotated rumours. We demonstrate how multi-task learning helps achieve good results on rumours from the 2011 England riots.
The spread of false rumours during emergencies can jeopardise the well-being of citizens as they are monitoring the stream of news from social media to stay abreast of the latest updates. In this paper, we describe the methodology we have developed within the PHEME project for the collection and sampling of conversational threads, as well as the tool we have developed to facilitate the annotation of these threads so as to identify rumourous ones. We describe the annotation task conducted on threads collected during the 2014 Ferguson unrest and we present and analyse our findings. Our results show that we can collect effectively social media rumours and identify multiple rumours associated with a range of stories that would have been hard to identify by relying on existing techniques that need manual input of rumour-specific keywords.
Oct 28 2014 cs.CL
Applying natural language processing for mining and intelligent information access to tweets (a form of microblog) is a challenging, emerging research area. Unlike carefully authored news text and other longer content, tweets pose a number of new challenges, due to their short, noisy, context-dependent, and dynamic nature. Information extraction from tweets is typically performed in a pipeline, comprising consecutive stages of language identification, tokenisation, part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition and entity disambiguation (e.g. with respect to DBpedia). In this work, we describe a new Twitter entity disambiguation dataset, and conduct an empirical analysis of named entity recognition and disambiguation, investigating how robust a number of state-of-the-art systems are on such noisy texts, what the main sources of error are, and which problems should be further investigated to improve the state of the art.
A UK-based online questionnaire investigating aspects of usage of user-generated media (UGM), such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, attracted 587 participants. Results show a high degree of engagement with social networking media such as Facebook, and a significant engagement with other media such as professional media, microblogs and blogs. Participants who experience information overload are those who engage less frequently with the media, rather than those who have fewer posts to read. Professional users show different behaviours to social users. Microbloggers complain of information overload to the greatest extent. Two thirds of Twitter-users have felt that they receive too many posts, and over half of Twitter-users have felt the need for a tool to filter out the irrelevant posts. Generally speaking, participants express satisfaction with the media, though a significant minority express a range of concerns including information overload and privacy.