Illustrated man catching Twitter birds with a net.
Catching tweets: what a feeling.
Image: Black Dog Institute

Written by Beth Askham

Emotions can run high in the twitterverse. Tweets about feelings can now be mapped to find the mood of a city, nation or area.

An online tool called We Feel, developed by CSIRO researchers, scans up to 32 000 tweets per minute. It recognises a range of words to judge how the tweeter feels. The tool might help us understand the rollercoaster of our emotions, and how they are linked to changes in the weather, time of day or news of a natural disaster.

Looking for moods

The researchers developed We Feel for the Black Dog Institute, which diagnoses, treats and prevents mood disorders such as depression. The institute thinks We Feel will let them monitor the emotions of people in different areas, helping them to provide services and care.

The project will explore whether Twitter can accurately describe people’s moods around the world. It uses a huge amount of data to make an interactive map of emotions.

“We Feel looks for up to 600 specific words in a stream of around 27 million tweets per day, and maps them to a hierarchy of emotions which includes love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear,” says Cecile Paris, of CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.

Cecile says you can explore emotional trends minute-by-minute, and across locations around the globe. Try out today’s map.

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