On Tuesday 10 October 2017, DataEQ CEO, Jean Pierre Kloppers presented oral evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Political Polling and Digital Media. Kloppers’ 2017 evidence on the value of social media as a source of volunteered public opinion was included in the Committee’s full report published in April 2018.
Kloppers told the Committee at Westminster that mining opinion on social media is a great supplement to traditional polling techniques: “It gives you a view of where there’s something missing in an opinion poll as we’ve seen in the elections gone by.”
DataEQ achieves high levels of accuracy by combining machine learning algorithms with human contributors. Kloppers explained that DataEQ sends a statistically significant sample of the data it analyses to human verifiers known as “The Crowd”. Each social media post is sent to multiple raters in the Crowd, who earn money by competing with others to verify the sentiment of the posts. DataEQs’ crowd is made up of people from around the world, speaking a number of different languages.
On predicting Brexit, a Kloppers said that after noticing some social media analytics companies who used algorithm-only sentiment analysis were predicting a win for Remain, he became curious. “Our AI system learns from how our Crowd processes data to better serve the Crowd with relevant information. If you’re using only algorithms to understand how people feel you’re probably getting the wrong answers” he said.
Emphasising the difference between opinion mining and traditional polling techniques, Kloppers said that by analysing social media data “you’re listening to everyone that’s volunteering an opinion.”