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New AI can predict exact moment a protest will turn violent from Twitter posts

'Twitter seems a battleground at all times, but it is a very specific type of message that appears before words online turn to actions on the street, say US researchers who developed an algorithm for predicting public violence.

“Our findings suggest that people are more likely to condone violent protest of an issue when they both see it at as a moral issue and believe others share this position, a pattern we refer to as moral convergence,” Morteza Dehghani, lead author of the study, which appeared in Nature, told Digital Trends. Spam_A Spam_B The team from the University of Southern California picked the 2015 Black Lives Matter riots in Baltimore that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. With 18 million messages posted on Twitter at the time referencing the riots, and near-hourly swings in the level of hostilities, there was plenty of scope for empirical research.

To detail the findings of the researchers, the main factor for rioting – and in this case clashing with police, formal protectors of the law – was a situation in which the protesters felt that they were “in the right” and represented the “good guys,” which justified them unleashing violence, particularly at moments when they thought hundreds or thousands of others shared their view, something social media encourages by its nature.

Moral convergence turned out to be a sensitive weathervane.'

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