Well, Mashable answers “no”. The article does explain the Twitter patterns before and during the elections that came close to doing so, suggesting the possibility that Twitter could, in the future, be the new elections preditor.
Before the elections, the Twindex (as seen below) found that Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and Iowa appeared to be in favor of Obama while Romney had the lead in New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. But, Obama had “the lead in Twitter sentiment across the United States as a whole.”
The Twindex gathers data from Twitter regarding people’s opinions on the candidates and creates a poll based on those expressed opinions. The “head of government, news and social innovation at Twitter,” Adam Sharp explains in the interview that this is not a replacement for tradition polls, but rather, “an additional, real-time view of the nation’s feelings about candidates…”
The Mashable article does acknowledge that Twitter does not account for all registered voters, and even then only a minority actively express their political opinions. But, Twitter is optimistic because it tracks Gallup polls, opening the possibility that Twitter may be the next platform for valuable election data.
I’m skeptical of using social media platforms as anything more than, as described by Adam Sharp, “an additional, real-time view of the nation’s feelings about candidates…” Social media is not neccessarily the correct platform to receive truth or facts. In our class discussions, we always agreed that research and experiments were unreliable because the subjects may lie. In this case, the Twitter accounts may not be honest for fear of backlash. For example, NYU Local’s writer declared his presidential choice and found that he was unfriended, verbally assaulted or found a secret ally who chose to send a private message. The fact that someone who also supported Romney, only felt comfortable to express that in a “private” realm of social media is proof enough that SNS may not be the most accurate source of information. If someone wants to argue that that’s why SNS offer anonymity or pseudonimity to express one’s opinions freely, then I ask, how do we know if that is a legitimate person?
There is the problem of bots–Romney may be losing friends, but he has also mysteriously gained 17,601 Twitter followers since the election.