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Can social media be used to predict the future?

New research is exploring the possibilities of social media forecasting - read this special issue of Internet Research for free throughout November

United Kingdom, 25 October 2013 – Every move we make on social media is being documented somewhere on machine readable formats – and now computer scientists are using this data to predict the future.

In the latest issue of Internet Research, researchers have explored how social media are providing computer and social scientists with an instantaneous, cheap and unstructured way of collecting data on a large scale.  By studying our online behaviour, we can now forecast - or even “nowcast” –  health scares, movie success or even results in political elections. This issue can be read for free until 30 November by visiting

The four articles in this special issue examine the different types of forecasting models and how they are being adapted to social media to help better understand (and predict) societal behaviours. Citing as one example the 2008 bird flu outbreak, researchers in the US and the UK were able to build a statistical model that predicted the number of cases one week in advance based on the contents and locations of tweets associated with the epidemic at the time.

Other scenarios include how the evolution of blog posts over time exhibited positive correlation with book sales, weeks in advance of publication, and how predicting election outcomes using Twitter is becoming increasingly popular.

Guest editor, Harald Schoen, Professor at the University of Bamberg, Germany, comments: “If there is anything human experience has taught us, it is that predicting the future is both highly desirable and extremely difficult.  Social media provide an impressive amount of data about users and their interactions, thereby offering computer and social scientists, economists, and statisticians –among others– new opportunities for research”.

Published by Emerald Group Publishing, Internet Research is an international, refereed journal that aims to describe, assess and foster understanding of the role of wide-area, multi-purpose computer networks such as the Internet. This special issue is published as Volume 23 Issue 5, and is freely available to read online until 30 November by visiting

For more information about the journal, visit

- ENDS -

Note to Editors

For further information about this publication or to discuss opportunities for interview, please contact Wendy Lynch, Publisher, at

Journal Table of Contents:

The Power of Prediction with Social Media
Authors: Harald Schoen, Daniel Gayo-Avello, Panagiotis Takis Metaxas, Eni Mustafaraj, Markus Strohmaier, Peter Gloor

Understanding the Predictive Power of Social Media
Authors: Evangelos Kalampokis, Efthimios Tambouris, Konstantinos Tarabanis

Predicting Information Credibility in Time-Sensitive Social Media
Authors: Carlos Castillo, Marcelo Mendoza, Barbara Poblete

Forecasting the pulse: how deviations from regular patterns in online data can identify offline phenomena
Authors: Andreas Jungherr, Pascal Jürgens

About Emerald Publishing:
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Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 to champion new ideas that would advance the research and practice of business and management. Today, we continue to nurture fresh thinking in applied fields where we feel we can make a real difference, now also including health and social care, education and engineering. We publish over 300 journals, more than 2,500 books and over 1,500 case studies, via our dedicated research platform


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