Posts tagged with "Twitter"

The tweets of Canadians and Americans reflect national stereotypes

February 8, 2019

@JustinTrudeau’s tweets are more friendly and courteous than those posted regularly by @realDonaldTrump—and it turns out that both men mirror the personalities and communication styles of their constituents, based on findings of a study conducted.recently by McMaster University in Ontario.

The study, which examined differences in the language used in nearly 40 million tweets suggests that the national stereotypes about the population of each nation—for example, that Canadians tend to be polite and nice, while Americans are negative and assertive—are reflected on Twitter, even if those widely held (but fixed and oversimplified) beliefs aren’t completely accurate.

Linguistic experts from the school used Twitter in an attempt to better understand national identity on a mass scale and where stereotypes might originate. They isolated  the words, emoticons, and emojis used disproportionately on Twitter by individuals from each country.

The findings, published online last November in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that national stereotypes are grounded –at least partially—in the words we choose. The work builds on earlier research from 2016 when the same team analyzed 3 million tweets.

“The most distinctive word choices of Americans and Canadians on Twitter paint a very accurate and familiar picture of the stereotypes we associate with people from these nations,” says Daniel Schmidtke, co-author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher at McMaster.

Canadians were far more positive on Twitter, using words such as: great, thanks, good, amazing, and happy For example, on February 5, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “We’re working hard to build infrastructure across the country to make life better for Canadians. Our investments are #BuildingCanada-and creating good, middle class jobs along the way.”

Americans tended to use more negative words like: hate, miss, mad, feel, swear, tired. For example, on February 5, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security. Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions – KEEP OUT!”

Americans preferred emojis, whereas Canadians preferred emoticons. Americans also used more netspeak like ‘lol’, ‘idk’, and ‘af’.

“It’s tempting to think that Canadians tweet more nicely than Americans because they really are more nice than Americans,” says Bryor Snefjella, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in the Reading Lab in McMaster’s Department of Linguistics and Languages, who was supervised by another co-author of the study, Associate Professor Victor Kuperman.

“But when we put all the data together, it suggests that something more complicated is happening,” he says.

The wrinkle is that other studies which have surveyed large numbers of Canadians and Americans have consistently shown that such national stereotypes are not accurate. There isn’t any hard evidence to support that an average American’s and average Canadian’s personality traits are different.

“The Twitter behavior we observe doesn’t actually reflect the real underlying personality profile of an average American or Canadian,” says Schmidtke.

To explore further, they exposed study participants to the most typical words and emojis from each nation. The participants were not told anything about how the words were chosen. They were then asked what the personality traits were of someone who often uses the most American and most Canadian words and emojis.

The results? Someone who uses very Canadian words has a personality matching the stereotype of a Canadian, and someone who uses very American words has a personality matching the stereotype of an American.

The research team argues that their results show an identity construction strategy in action: Canadians and Americans may create their national character stereotype through their language use.

In future, researchers hope to compare other stereotypes between people in different sets of countries.

Research contact: vickup@mcmaster.ca

Cohen’s lawyer: House has ‘an obligation’ to scrutinize Giuliani over ‘witness tampering’

January 25, 2019

The expected repercussions have begun, following a decision this week by President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal attorney Michael Cohen to postpone his second round of Congressional testimony since 2017 because of “ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. [Rudolph] Giuliani.”

First, Cohen was subpoenaed on January 24 to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, his spokesperson and attorney Lanny Davis confirmed to CNN.

Second, Davis called on Thursday for a criminal investigation into President Donald Trump‘s person lawyer in the Russia probe, Rudy Giuliani, for alleged witness tampering, The Hill reported. 

Let me be very clear, the House of Representatives now has an obligation,” Davis said on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America in an interview with anchor George Stephanopoulos.

A resolution of censure when the president of the United States indisputably intimidates and obstructs justice to prevent a witness from testifying is an order. So is a federal criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani for witness tampering.”

Davis said in a statement earlier this week that Cohen would postpone testimony before Congress because of “ongoing threats” his family has received from Trump and Giuliani. 

“Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Davis said, referring to testimony Cohen was prepared to give to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 7. The testimony had been scheduled after Cohen admitted to Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he had lied in his previous appearance before Congress.

Cohen was sentenced late last year to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges related to bank and tax fraud and campaign finance violations. He also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timing of negotiations surrounding a Trump Tower development in Moscow.

Cohen said Trump directed him to commit the campaign finance violations. 

The president, however, has repeatedly castigated Cohen, going so far as to call him a “rat on Twitter.” He said earlier this month that Cohen was cooperating with investigators in order to get a reduced sentence, advising Fox News that Cohen was “Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!”

Giuliani on January 20 told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump was “defending” himself by calling out Cohen’s father-in-law, adding that “he may have ties to something called organized crime.”

Davis condemned the two on Thursday, saying that “calling out a man’s father-in-law and wife in order to intimidate the witness is not fair game.”

Research contact: @JustinWise

Senator Kamala Harris slams Supremes on transgender ruling

January 23, 2019

Following her announcement on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America on January 21 that she will make a run for the U.S. presidency; early on Tuesday, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) castigated the Supreme Court for allowing the Trump administration to temporarily enforce its restrictions on transgender military personnel.

Transgender military members have the courage to serve our country and deserve to do so. We have to fight back to reverse this,” Harris tweeted at 10:45 a.m.

Her tweet came shortly after the high court said it would allow the White House to briefly enforce a ban on transgender service members—until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California hears a case to determine its legality, The Hill reported.

The case was considered by the Supreme Court after Solicitor General Noel Francisco leapfrogged the usual legal process in November—bypassing the regional court in the belief that the higher court would rule in favor of the White House.

Francisco implored the justices to immediately take the case and issue a ruling this term, according to the political news outlet—arguing that the lower court’s decision blocked a policy that’s “necessary to place the Department of Defense in the strongest position to protect the American people.”

He said that the Department of Defense review found that continuing to allow transgender people who have transitioned or seek to transition to serve in the military poses a threat to military effectiveness and readiness.

However, in a blow to Francisco and the administration, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments on the case’s legality. The justices prefer the appeals courts to have considered a case before they weigh in, and even then are selective, The Hill said. It takes four justices to agree to hear a case, and often they only agree to step in if the appeals courts are deeply divided on an issue.

It takes five justices to agree to stay a lower court ruling. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, of the court’s liberal wing, said they would have denied the application, according to the news outlet.

Trump announced the ban on transgender service members on March 23, stating that transgender applicants are “disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time that the decision was based upon “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans

In her announcement on January 21, Senator Harris stated, “My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe. When I look at this moment in time, I know the American people deserve to have someone who is going to fight for them … and put them in front of self-interest.”

Research contact: @jabowden4

A surprisingly simple explanation of grief

December 31, 2018

In a simple, but powerful December 29 tweet, Lauren Herschel of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, shared “The Ball and the Box” analogy to grief, MSN reported on December 27.

Anguish following the loss of a close family member, friend, or pet is a tricky thing to describe or explain. Everyone grieves differently, and there’s certainly no timeline for how you’re supposed to feel. To show this, Herschel drew two pictures of how sorrow changes over time and why it can bubble up randomly.

Her analogy and the pictures she sketched to explain it already have been retweeted over 4,000 times.

Herschel drew a box (square) with a ball (circle) inside. On the left side of box she penciled in a red “button.”When the grief is new,” she explained, “the ball takes up most of the box and is hitting the button, which represents pain, over and over again. The pain is fairly constant. . You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting.””

But, she says, “Over time time, the ball shrinks — but every now and then, it still hits the button and it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function, day-to-day, more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits the button when you least expect it. Maybe you see someone who reminds you of your loved one. Maybe a certain song plays on the radio. Maybe it comes out of nowhere.”

Herschel says she first heard about the analogy after the recent death of her mother, when a doctor explained it to her. It not only helped her to understand the overwhelming grief she was experiencing after such a fresh loss, but it also gave her clarity about why she still was experiencing grief over her dad (who had been gone for 20 years).

“I think in general feelings, especially the tough ones, are hard to articulate,” she said.

“For most people, the ball never really goes away,” she said in another tweet. “It might hit [with less frequency] and you have more time to recover between hits, unlike when the ball was still giant. I thought this was the best description of grief I’ve heard in a long time.”

She advises that it can take time for the ball in your box to shrink. You shouldn’t feel rushed into getting “over” your grief, and you definitely shouldn’t feel judged for grieving, no matter how long ago it started.

Research contact: @LaurenHerschel

Trump rails against recounts in Florida

November 13, 2018

Even as word came in early on November 12 that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema had taken 49.6% of the Arizona vote in the race for U.S. Senate against the GOP’s Martha McSally (48.1%), President Donald Trump railed against the continuing recounts in Florida—the results of which could change the balance of power in Washington, D.C.

The president alleged, without any solid evidence, that many ballots in the Senate and gubernatorial races were “missing and forged” and that a valid tally  would not be possible, according to a same-day report by the Washington Post.

“An honest vote count is no longer possible—ballots massively infected,” the president tweeted at 7:44 a.m. (ET).

Instead of a recount, Trump suggested that the results from the night of the November 6 midterm election should stand, handing victories to fellow Republicans Rick Scott, the governor, in the Senate race and Ron DeSantis, a former congressman, in the gubernatorial contest.

Must go with Election Night!” the POTUS said.

However, the recounts continue. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties began retabulating the vote on November 10, while Broward started on November 11. The recounts are happening in accordance with Florida law because of the tight margins in the votes, the Post said.

Notwithstanding those recounts, Trump is not alone . On November 11, Scott went on national television to accuse Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, whom  still is hoping to unseat, of trying to “commit fraud to try to win this election,”  the Post reported, noting, “His campaign said it had filed lawsuits against Brenda Snipes and Susan Bucher, the election supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties, two Democratic strongholds. Democrats called it desperation by a candidate sitting on a precarious vote lead.”

Scott made his comments in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” after his lead shrank to fewer than 13,000 votes in a race with national stakes. In a separate Fox News television appearance Monday, Scott called Nelson a “sore loser” and alleged that “he’s just here to steal this election.”

Nelson fired back on Twitter on Monday, the Post reported, writing that there is “zero evidence backing up claims by Republican extremists that Democrats are trying to steal the election.”

In the Senate contest, Scott’s lead over Nelson has narrowed to 12,562 votes out of more than 8 million ballots cast, the news outlet said—or a margin of 0.15%, according to an unofficial tally Saturday from the state. State law mandates a machine recount if the margin is half a percentage point or less.

The governor’s race also has tightened, with DeSantis ahead by a mere 0.41%. If that margin holds, it would fall short of the 0.25% threshold for a more involved manual recount.

The election results are slated to be certified on November 20. Newly elected senators are expected to report to Washington, D.C., this week for orientation. Scott said he has not decided his schedule yet. The Senate will swear in new members in January.

Research contact: sean.sullivan@washpost.com

In effort to intimidate voters, Trump and Sessions warn of fraud at polls

November 7, 2018

On the day before the midterm elections, November 5, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued strong warnings about the threat of voter fraud —echoing what the Washington Post characterized as “the president’s baseless claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election and prompting accusations that his administration is trying to intimidate voters.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump said that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.”

Sessions, in a statement laying out the Justice Department’s plans to monitor ballot access on Election Day, said “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.

In remarks to reporters on his way to a campaign rally in Cleveland, Trump also falsely claimed that voter fraud is commonplace, the Washington Post said.

“Just take a look,” he said. “All you have to do is go around, take a look at what’s happened over the years, and you’ll see. There are a lot of people—a lot of people—my opinion, and based on proof—that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States, the Post reported, noting that the president had formed a commission to study the issue shortly after he took office that was disbanded without finding evidence of fraud after states refused to turn over voter data.

Voting rights advocates denounced Trump’s remarks as a blatant attempt to intimidate voters on the eve of Election Day—and part of a pattern among Republicans, they said, to curtail voting access with strict rules that disproportionately affect voters of color who tend to vote Democratic.

“I find this kind of conduct incredibly anti-patriotic,” Kristen Clarke, who leads the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting rights group that has successfully challenged several new voting restrictions across the country this year, told the Post. “At a time when we need our White House and Justice Department speaking out against the relentless campaign of voter suppression in this election cycle, it defies reason.”

Research contact: amy.gardner@washpost.com

Flake urges one-week delay for FBI probe of allegations against Kavanaugh

October 1,  2018

On Friday, September 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination to the entire Senate for a vote. However, the floor vote may be delayed for as long as one week.

After hearings on September 27 that comprised credible accusations of sexual assault made by Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford—and strong denials from the  nominee—the committee now is considering a variety of demands to conduct a more thorough investigation of the allegations through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A member of the committee, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona) voted with his GOP colleagues, but then called for a delay so that the FBI could investigate the accusations against Kavanaugh.

In addition, the American Bar Association, Yale University, and three Republican governors —Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and John Kasich of Ohio—called for a probe into the charges.

In a letter sent to committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) on the evening after the September 27 hearings,  Robert Carlson, the president of the American Bar Association called on the committee to halt the confirmation vote until “after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Ford and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others),” he said, “is simply too important to rush to a vote. Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court. It must remain an institution that will reliably follow the law and not politics.

The call for a pause is significant, The New York Times said,  not just because of the bar association’s clout in the legal community, but because an A.B.A. committee had said unanimously a month ago that Judge Kavanaugh was “well-qualified” for the Supreme Court, its highest possible designation. Judge Kavanaugh and his supporters had noted that distinction in arguing for his nomination to be approved by the Senate.

Meanwhile, 48 members of the faculty of Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Yale Law School, sent a letter delineating concerns about “a rush to judgment.” They noted “Where, as here, a sexual assault has been alleged against an individual nominated for a lifetime appointment in a position of public trust, a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth of the matter. Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly.  Those at the FBI or others tasked with such an investigation must have adequate time to investigate facts. Fair process requires evidence from all parties with direct knowledge and consultation of experts when evaluating such evidence. In subsequent hearings, all of those who testify, and particularly women testifying about sexual assault, must be treated with respect.

In addition, three Republican governors—John Kasich of Ohio, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Phil Scott of Vermont—called for the GOP-controlled Senate to slow down Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and a fourth called the accusations against him “disturbing.”

According to a report by the Huffington Post, Baker and Kasich both weighed in on Twitter. Baker described the allegations as “sickening” and said there should be no Senate vote until an independent investigation is complete. Kasich, who is in his final year as governor and is widely seen as a potential long-shot primary challenger to President Donald Trump in 2020, went further in his own statement, saying he would not support Kavanaugh’s confirmation “in the absence of a complete and thorough investigation.”

Scott made similar remarks to the Burlington Free Press. “This is a lifetime appointment,” Scott said. “And I’m not taking a position on Judge Kavanaugh himself, but we owe it to Americans to make sure that they get it right. Because this doesn’t happen every day. And it’s their obligation to do so. So take your time. Investigate.”

In addition, the Huffington Post reported, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told The Baltimore Sun on September 26 that the accusations were “disturbing” and gave him “great pause.”

He noted,“There are credible charges and big concerns. They need to be heard,” he said after an event in Montgomery County. “They ought to take whatever time it takes to make sure these accusers are heard and he has a chance to respond to them.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who, as a committee member, had adamantly defended the nominee during the hearings on September 27—told CNN after the committee vote that he did not think the delay was necessary, but “this is democracy.” He added, “If Jeff feels better about it, I’ll feel better about it,”

Currently, according to Fox News, 56% of U.S. voters would delay the full Senate floor confirmation process on Kavanaugh to allow for more investigation of the allegations against him; and 31% would not delay.

Rsearch contact: @foxnewspoll

Trump postpones military parade until 2019, citing ‘inflated’ costs

August 20, 2018

Everyone loves a parade—or do they? Last February, President Donald Trump asked the Pentagon to plan a parade showcasing U.S. military might—similar to the one that he and the FLOTUS attended in Paris on July 14 in celebration of Bastille Day.

He was in love with the idea of seeing tanks and tactical vehicles rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue—but the American people? Not so much. In fact, based on findings of an informal poll conducted by the Army Times, most people don’t support it. Nearly 9 out of 10, (89%) of that publication’s readers who responded said the parade would be “a waste of money and troops are too busy.” Another 11% supported the idea, describing it as a “great opportunity to show off [the] U.S. military.”

On August 17, The New York Times reported, Trump was forced to postpone plans for a military parade this fall in Washington, D.C.—blaming local officials for inflating the costs and saying they “know a windfall when they see it.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser  pushed back on Twitter, saying that she had “finally got thru” to the president to convey the “realities” of what it costs to stage events like military parades in the city. She put the number at $21.6 million, although, she stipulated, the city’s costs are just a fraction of the total, with federal agencies also kicking in millions of dollars.

A day earlier, the Pentagon said Mr. Trump’s parade to celebrate the military could be postponed to 2019, as officials acknowledged that the event could cost more than $90 million.

The parade was initially scheduled for November 10— Veterans Day weekend—of this year. In a pair of tweets, the POTUS allowed for the possibility of a parade in 2019, the Times said. He speculated that this year he would, instead, attend another parade planned at Joint Base Andrews and a military parade in Paris.

The president also took a jab at the local government in Washington, saying the city is poorly” run. Mayor Bowser, a Democrat, slapped back—mocking the president by ending her tweet with a parenthetical “sad” — a word Trump often uses in his own tweets.

Estimates for such events often are based on past costs for similar parades. For the 2017 inauguration, which included a parade, officials estimated that it would cost the city $20 million, according to The Washington Post. Federal agencies put up millions of dollars, as well. Most of the costs are security-related expenses.

On August 16, Secretary of Denfense James Mattis,  supported his boss by dismissing reports of a cost estimate of more than $90 million, saying, “I guarantee you there’s been no cost estimate.”

Large military parades are atypical in America, although President George H.W. Bush staged one in the nation’s capital in 1991 after the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.

Research contact: tcopp@militarytimes.com

Haters are outnumbered at ‘Unite the Right 2’ DC rally

August 14, 2018

The organizers expected as many as 400 people to attend the far right, white nationalist/neo-Nazi demonstration billed as Unite the Right 2 in Washington, D.C., on August 11—however they were way outnumbered by the crowd who showed up to protest bigotry and defend diversity, according to a report by Slate.

A small group of about 20 white supremacists—led by Jason Kessler, who also organized the Unite the Right rally last year in Charlottesville—traveled into Washington, D.C. via subway. When they emerged, counterprotestors were waiting for them—shouting, “Go home!” and “You’re not welcome here!”

While the white supremacists had a police escort and their opponents did not, many white nationalists left the rally early—disappointed by the lack of support and drowned out by the chanting of DC Unite Against Hate and about 40 other anti-racism groups, who gathered in a force of nearly 1,000 people to take a stand at the demonstration.

Other neo-Nazis simply did not show up. Kessler told CNN that he blamed the low turnout on logistical issues and confusion regarding the group’s transportation—a claim echoed by at least two men who spoke to reporters. “People are scared to come out after what happened last year,” one of the men added.

“Our message is to let everyone know we support each other,” Maurice Cook, a co-organizer for the March for Racial Justice, told the Washington, D.C. ABC-TV News affiliate, WJLA, where his group gathered in a “United Against Hate” counterprotest in Freedom Plaza.

Kaitlin Moore, 28, of Frederick, Maryland, told CNN she was participating in counterprotests in Lafayette Square to “show this is not okay.”

In a tweet on Saturday morning, President Donald Trump wrote, “We must come together as a nation.I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”

According to CNN, “It was a departure from his comments a year ago, when he said there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides of the conflict in Charlottesville.”

Research contact@dpoliti

Karl Rove compares Trump to Stalin and advises him to ‘tone down’ anti-media rhetoric

August 8, 2018

Karl Rove, the Republican political consultant and policy advisor who is largely credited for the election of George W. Bush in 2000—and widely known for his proclivity for dirty tricks—advised President Donald Trump to cut out his “over the top” anti-media rhetoric during an appearance on Fox News on August 6, according to a same-day report by Mediaite.

Rove’s comments came after Trump took again to Twitter over the weekend, characterizing the news media as “the Enemy of the People,” and alleging, : “[They] purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

In short, Mediaite said, Rove told Trump to suck it up. “I think this is over the top,” he said, adding, “. Every president has problems with the media. I was in the White House for seven years, I didn’t like the coverage they gave George W. Bush, particularly the liberal New York Times.”

Rove said the president should criticize the media “on a case-by-case basis,” and “make a respectful disagreement.

“I think calling names is not helpful to our country from any side,” said Bush’s former chief of staff. ”

The former White House official then addressed Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” to describe the press.

“That just grates on me,” he said. “I grew up during the time of the Cold War. That is a phrase that was used by [Communist leader] Stalin against the enemies of the communist regime. I think the president would be well advised to tone down the rhetoric.”

Rove went on to note that Trump’s disapproval ratings are high, and that he can’t simply appeal to his “hard-core” supporters at rallies.

According to Gallup, Trump currently has a 38% approval rating and a 57% disapproval rating.

Research contact: @aidnmclaughlin