Can Twitter Be Used to Predict Crime?

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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.

Related: Study: Emotions on Facebook Are Contagious

"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.

In other words, if gobs of people are talking about getting inebriated, there could be an increase in crime, since drinking can cause folks to do stupid things.

The study hopes that the results can "improve the allocation of scarce resources such as police patrols and officer time, leading to a reduction in wasted effort and decrease in crime response times."

If formulas are your thing, you can read the entire paper here.

Related: Crowdsourcing Gone Too Far? Canadian Couple Lets the Internet Name Their Baby Girl.

 
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