Looking Past Hashtags
To know what is trending, Twitter scans its library of tweets and counts up the number of times certain hashtags are used. While this definitely succeeds in identifying what is being talked about the most, it does not tell us what is actually being said. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia decided to change that by developing a system that actually analyzes the words being used, to extract meaning.
To start off, the researchers used tweets associated with the Super Bowl and World Series and provided their system with a small library of words they expected to be present. The system then looked for those words as well as their placement within the tweets. The result is an analysis of what is happening at a micro or local level, beneath the clutter of hashtags.
The researchers see this system potentially being used to help provide information to people about what is happening in any given situation, such as after a disaster. It could even be used to predict future events.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia