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Internet Traffic Search and Ethnic Relations in Russia. The Promise. Jeremy Ginsberg, Matthew H. Mohebbi, Rajan S. Patel, Lynnette Brammer, Mark S. Smolinski &  Larry Brilliant, “Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data,” Nature Vol 457, 19 February 2009

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Internet Traffic Search and Ethnic Relations in Russia

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Internet Traffic Search and Ethnic Relations in Russia


The Promise

Jeremy Ginsberg, Matthew H.

Mohebbi, Rajan S. Patel, Lynnette

Brammer, Mark S. Smolinski & 

Larry Brilliant, “Detecting influenza

epidemics using search engine query

data,” Nature Vol 457, 19 February

2009

  • Developed a method to analyze a large volume of Google queries to detect social behavior

  • Improved early detection of social behavior

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07634


Key components of the study

  • Google Trends: Internet search traffic measurement

  • Search query database: including IP addresses associated with each query

  • Prior years’ hard data on the behavior of interest (CDC)

  • Automated query-selection process: Identification of 45 highest-scoring search queries that fit the data from prior years

    • linear regression with 4-fold cross validation

  • Regional data aggregation: Maximizing fit probability and minimizing false positives

    • fit models to four 96-point subsets of the 128 points in each region.

  • Final model fitting: Tests in later years and for each individual state


Key lessons

  • Sensitivity to the nature of social behavior

  • Sensitivity to variation across regions

  • Sensitivity to variation over time

  • Multiple measures

  • Data reduction


Applications for Ethnic Conflict ResearchBuilding Block 1:Search Engines & Traffic Calculators


Applications for Ethnic Conflict ResearchBuilding Block 2:Search Query Sources


SOVA Information-Analytical Center Project: “The Language of Hate in the Mass Media”http://xeno.sova-center.ru/213716E/21398CB


ДПНИ and other xenophobic websites


Islamist Radical Websites


Other sources

  • Internet buzz: chat forums, blogs

  • Tube traffic: cell phone clips, provocative song titles, video posts

  • Yandex search spin-offs (trends by words)

  • Focus groups

  • Expert groups


Applications for Ethnic Conflict ResearchBuilding Block 3:Behavioral Data Sources


Violence Data

  • SOVA Center (xenophobic violence; systemic interethnic communal violence)

  • UCSJ: Anti-Semitism

  • Кавказский узел (хроники по Ингушетии, Дагестану, Чечне)

  • Voinenet.com (weekly event summaries across the North Caucasus)

  • Data on protest attendance (police, HR NGOs)

  • GEDS archives (UMD)


Voting datahttp://www.vybory.izbirkom.ru/region/region/izbirkom?action=show&root=1&tvd=100100021960186&vrn=100100021960181&region=0&global=1&sub_region=0&prver=0&pronetvd=null&vibid=100100021960186&type=233


Potentially trackable phenomena

  • Mobilization:

    • Xenophobic group names; party names; leader names; event names

  • Intergroup hostility

    • Expressions of hate (derogatory group epithets)

  • Violence:

    • Proxies (weapons purchase, martial arts clubs, extremist forums names)

  • Minority groups’ resistance:

    • Specific ethnic group names + rights; HR NGOs; defense lawyers names, etc

  • Trust in government/state capacity:

    • Legal texts, statutes (Art. 282), police measures


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