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Twitter Analysis Helps Reveal How Americans Really Feel About the Police

It's not an easy time to be a police officer in the States. A perceived increase in the rate of police brutality incidents and police shootings, particularly ones which would seem to have been racially motivated, has ushered in a storm of criticism against police departments across America, and by association, the entire American approach to law enforcement. It's something the media have taken full advantage of, often more than happy to stir the pot, further blurring the line between sensationalism and genuine concern.

Finding a way to cut past all that could be invaluable to both police departments and the public, and what better way to do that than to analyse tweets. Security firm Protection1 sifted through 1.2 million tweets to this end, and used them to create a map which shows public attitude towards the police state by state.

As you can see, the more positive talk seems to emanate from states like Texas, Nevada and Ohio. In the areas which some of the bigger stories emanated from, like New York (Eric Garner), Maryland (Freddie Gray), Missouri (Michael Brown) and Ohio (Samuel DuBose), opinion seems be be mixed-to-positive. Most of the more intense negativity seems to based in the Northern states, particularly Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as New Hampshire, Alaska and Hawaii. Further south there's some heavy negativity in New Mexico but overall it's pretty mixed between mild like and mild dislike.

The study goes on to point out that the more negative areas are ones where general discussion of police activity is far higher, with the suggestion being that once a news story breaks, discussion opens up, and rarely do people on Twitter go out of their way to talk about why something is good. Any argument on the police that isn't "Are they doing a good job, or a really good job?" is going to be shrouded in negativity, even if plenty of people are speaking in their defense.

It's hard to gauge the accuracy of a study like this, or which external factors have the biggest impact on the way people tweet about the police, but regardless, it could give departments in the more negative areas a window into how to improve their public image, even if just on social media.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Twitter Analysis Helps Reveal How Americans Really Feel About the Police Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, April 14, 2016 Rating: 5

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