Social Media Analysis

Using social media data to isolate areas of conflict in Nigeria

Geotagged social media is plentiful in many parts of the world, but sorting through the enormous volume for relevant information is challenging. We used a keyword and volume-based method to find spikes in Twitter activity about conflict-related issues including terrorist threats, civil uprisings or military incursions. In the figure below, we have plotted the baseline Twitter usage (orange) against the normalized Tweets which were filtered to include conflict-related words. Deviations in the two show spikes in the Tweets with conflict-related words indicating conflict events.


We expanded our analysis to take advantage of the geotagging on the Tweets to isolate where a conflict event is likely to have occurred. This analysis provides near-real time tip-offs for further analysis to corroborate the location. 
In the graph below, dark green areas represent absent or less than average usage of conflict keywords, yellow areas represent average usage of keywords, while orange and red is above average usage of conflict keywords. This data represents the entire month of February 2015. Note the red and orange areas around Gombe, where Nigerian troops fought Boko Haram as indicated by the spike in the previous chart on 2/14/2015.