Researchers believe they can predict crime using Twitter

Researchers at the University of Virginia have developed a method of analyzing Twitter use to predict crimes. According to a research paper recently published in the scientific journal “Decision Support Systems,” a certain type of analysis can be applied to geo-tagged tweets to predict 19 to 25 different types of criminal activity before they even occur, including stalking, theft, and multiple types of assault.

While most people would not declare their intention to get into a fight, tweets with words like “drunk” or “wasted” might be able to predict an assault. A research paper published in the scientific journal Decision Support Systems last month says tweets can help anticipate 19 to 25 types of crimes especially in cases of stalking, theft and gambling. Researcher Matthew Gerber used public tweets that were geo-tagged in Chicago, and compared the tweets to the city’s crime database. “So if I tweet about getting drunk tonight, and a lot of people are talking about getting drunk, we know there are certain crimes associated with those things that produce crimes. It’s indirect,”Gerber said in an interview with AFP.

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