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Ingmar Weber, August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00pm
Uris Hall, Room 320

Please join us on Monday, August 26th   from 3:00pm – 4:15pm at Uris Hall Room 320 to hear Ingmar Weber speak on “Secular vs. Islamist Polarization in Egypt on Twitter”
This Talk is Co-Sponsored by Yahoo!

Speaker: Ingmar Weber is a senior scientist in the Social Computing Group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI).
 
Talk Title: “Secular vs. Islamist Polarization in Egypt on Twitter”
                                                                                                                                
Abstract: We use public data from Twitter, both in English and Arabic, to study the phenomenon of secular vs. Islamist polarization in Twitter.
 
Starting with a set of prominent seed Twitter users from both camps, we follow retweeting edges to obtain an extended network of users with inferred political orientation. We present an in-depth description of the members of the two camps, both in terms of behavior on Twitter and in terms of offline characteristics such as gender. Through the identification of partisan users, we compute a valence on the secular vs. Islamist axis for hashtags and use this information both to analyze topical interests and to quantify how polarized society as a whole is at a given point in time. For the last 12 months, large values on this ``polarization barometer'' coincided with periods of violence. Tweets are furthermore annotated using hand-crafted dictionaries to quantify the usage of (i) religious terms, (ii) derogatory terms referring to other religions, and (ii) references to charitable acts.
 
The combination of all the information allows us to test and quantify a number of stereo-typical hypotheses such as (i) that religiosity and political Islamism are correlated, (ii) that political Islamism and negative views on other religions are linked, (iii) that religiosity goes hand in hand with charitable giving, and (iv) that the followers of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood are more tightly connected and expressing themselves ``in unison'' than the secular opposition. Last on least, by looking at the international network of whom retweets whom abroad, we find evidence for an increased influence of Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the Islamists, whereas the US and Western Europe seem to have more influence on the secularists.
 
I'll also share a public web demo that allows to explore the hashtag polarization between these two camps over time.
 
The talk is based on joint work with Kiran Garimella (@QCRI) and Alaa Batayneh (@Al Jazeera) that has been accepted at ASONAM'13.
 
Bio: Ingmar Weber is a senior scientist in the Social Computing Group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). His academic career has continuously drawn him further South with stops at 52.2°N (Cambridge University), 49.2°N (Max-Planck Institute for Computer Science), 46.5°N (EPFL), 41.4°N (Yahoo! Research Barcelona) and 25.3°N (QCRI). His recent work focuses on how user-generated online data can be used to answer questions about society at large and the offline world in general. Ingmar is co-organizer of the ``Politics, Elections and Data'' (PLEAD) workshop at CIKM 2012 and 2013, contributor to a WSDM 2013 tutorial on ``Data-driven Political Science'' and is co-editor of a Social Science Computing Review special issue on ``Quantifying Politics Using Online Data''. He loves chocolate, enjoys participating in the occasional ultra-marathon/triathlon and tweets at @ingmarweber.