Twitter Debuts 'Oscars Index' to Track Academy Awards Social Sentiment

9:02 AM PST 01/15/2013 by Erik Hayden

The microblogging service is introducing an interactive feature to track positive sentiment ahead of the Feb. 24 trophy show.

Twitter is rolling out a new tool to track social sentiment of the Academy Award nominees -- and so far Zero Dark Thirty is scoring well below its fellow best picture contenders.

On Tuesday, the microblogging service introduced its Twitter Oscars Index, a platform that allows users to track social sentiment for nominees in top categories. Practically speaking, the index is an interactive line graph that shows how Oscar-contending films, actors and directors are benefiting from positive word-of-mouth in the form of tweets.

THR's Voter's Guide: Best Picture

The index scores positive sentiment from 0 to 100, which Twitter explains this way: "if a nominee has an Index of 80, comments about that nominee are more positive than roughly 80 percent of all the other terms on Twitter." This offers a way to sift through the clutter of the Oscar tweets and observe some interesting trends about which contenders are getting the most positive feedback. 

For example, on Jan. 10 -- the day when the Academy Awards were announced -- David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook and Ang Lee's Life of Pi were the Oscar contenders with the highest Index, 92.5. Per Twitter's explanation, that means tweets about those films were more positive than roughly 92.5 percent of all tweets that day.

Not all Oscar-contending films have high Index numbers. Zero Dark Thirty recorded a low Index of 5 on Jan. 10, the day it nabbed five Oscar nominations. Kathryn Bigelow's film, which has been the subject of intense debate for its depiction of torture during the hunt for Osama bin Laden, has averaged a far lower index than the eight other best picture contenders since Twitter started tracking social sentiment in mid-December. 

The index "reflects the ebb and flow" of award season chatter, "showing how positively fans on Twitter are discussing nominees relative to each other," Fred Graver, Twitter's head of TV, wrote on the microblogging service's official blog. The index was produced in partnership with social-analytics provider Topsy, which also created Twitter's Political Index during the recent election cycle. 

Twitter says it uses the same "underlying methodology" to construct the Oscars Index as it used for the Political Index, which tracked social sentiment surrounding candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during the 2012 election -- as well as topics areas such as the Economy, PBS funding and memes like Horses and Bayonets.

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