Suhas Ranganath

Suhas Ranganath, one of the lead researchers on the project. (asu.edu photo)

NEW YORK — A team of U.S. researchers including an Indian American scientist has formulated a new method that can predict with 70 percent accuracy the likelihood that your tweets that are part of an ongoing debate or a movement will become part of a larger and even violent protest later.

The study from researchers at Arizona State University, Texas A&M University and Yahoo and funded in part by the U.S. Military's Office of Naval Research looked at 2,686 Twitter posts to create a system that reliably spots future online protesters.

"The ways in which protest-related events affect a person are not observable, resulting in a lack of knowledge of factors operating at that time causing his next post to be a declaration of protest," wrote lead researchers Suhas Ranganath, Fred Morstatter and colleagues from Arizona State University.

"A user is subject to various types of influence in his past, and many of them are in conflict with each other. This may lead to ambiguities on whether his posts will contain declarations of protest in the future," they added.

The paper titled "Predicting Online Protest Participation of Social Media Users" was published as part of the proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference in Phoenix, Arizona, recently.

To reach this conclusion, the team observed tweets regarding the Nigerian general election in 2015, which eventually sparked widespread protests due to irregularities and militant violence.

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