Tuesday, February 18, 1-2 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
3rd Floor, Research Hall

“What Can Twitter Tell Us About the “Real World?”

Ingmar Weber, Senior Scientist
Social Computing Group
Qatar Computing Research Institute

The Center for Social Complexity and Department of Computational Social Science will be hosting Ingmar Weber on Tuesday, February 18 from 1-2 in the Center for Social Complexity Suite.  Ingmar will be presenting  “What Can Twitter Tell Us About the “Real World?” 

Due to Twitter’s global popularity and the relative ease with which large amounts of tweets can be collected and analyzed, more and more researchers turn to Twitter as a data source for studies in Computational Social Science. But at the same time it is obvious that Twitter users are not representative of the overall population. So the question arises what Twitter can really tell us about the “Real World” beyond teens’ obsession with Justin Bieber. In this talk, I will give an overview of some past and present research done at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) which tries to find links between the online world and the offline world.

The first line of work looks at political tension in Egypt. Is it possible to quantify tension in a polarized society and maybe even predict outbreaks of violence? Based on our methodology we find evidence that monitoring the extreme poles can give indications about periods of violence. [1, 2] – Joint work with Kiran Garimella and Alaa Batayneh

Migration is one the major driving forces behind demographic changes around the world. In this second line of work we turn to online data and digital methods to see if we can quantify certain aspects of migration for a large number of countries and faster than typical reporting latencies of often more than a year. [3] – Joint work with Emilio Zagheni, Bogdan State and Kiran Garimella

A popular saying is that you are what you eat. We study if you also tweet what you eat and if it is possible to study food consumption using Twitter. Here, we are particularly interested in questions related to obesity and if there are “networks effects”, but also in questions related to demographic influences such as income. [under review] – Joint work with Yelena Mejova and Sofiane Abbar.

[1] Ingmar Weber, Venkata Rama Kiran Garimella, Alaa Batayneh:  Secular vs. Islamist Polarization in Egypt on Twitter. ASONAM 2013: 290-297
[2] Ingmar Weber, Venkata Rama Kiran Garimella: #Egypt: Visualizing Islamist vs. Secular tension on Twitter. ASONAM 2013: 1100-1101
[3] Emilio Zagheni, Venkata Rama Kiran Garimella, Ingmar Weber, Bogdan State:  Inferring International and Internal Migration Patterns from Twitter Data. WWW-WebSci Track 2014: [to appear]
A complete list of publications with .pdfs can be found at

Bio: Ingmar Weber is a senior scientist in the Social Computing Group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). He enjoys interdisciplinary research that uses “big data” and computer science methods to address research questions coming from other domains. His work focuses on how user-generated online data can be used to answer questions about society at large and the offline world in general. During his academic career he has gradually moved 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). 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”, co-editor of a Social Science Computing Review special issue on “Quantifying Politics Using Online Data”, co-organizer of a CIKM 2013 tutorial on “Twitter and the Real World” and PC Co-Chair of SocInfo 2014. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and his research has been featured on Financial Times, New Scientist, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera and other media. He loves chocolate, enjoys participating in the occasional ultra-marathon/triathlon and tweets at @ingmarweber.