The role of visualisations in social media monitoring systems

Social-Media streams are constantly supplying vast volumes of real-time User Generated Content through platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which makes it a challenge to monitor and understand. Understanding social conversations has now become a major interest for businesses, PR and advertising agencies, as well as law enforcement and government bodies. Monitoring of social-media allows us to observe large numbers of spontaneous, real-time interactions and varied expression of opinion, often fleeting and private. However, human, expert monitoring is generally unfeasible due to the high volumes of data. This has been a major reason for recent research and development work looking at automated social-media monitoring systems. Such systems often keep the human "out of the loop" as an NLP (Natural Language Processing) pipeline and other data-mining algorithms deal with analysing and extracting features and meaning from the data. This is plagued by a variety of problems, mostly due to the heterogenic, inconsistent and context-poor nature of social-media data, where as a result the accuracy and efficacy of such systems suffers. Nevertheless, automated social-media monitoring systems provide for a scalable, streamlined and often efficient way of dealing with big-data streams. The integration of processing outputs from automated systems and feedback to human experts is a challenge and deserves to be addressed in research literature. This paper will establish the role of the human in the social-media monitoring loop, based on prior systems work in this area. The focus of our investigation will be on use of visualisations for effective feedback to human experts. A specific, custom built system’s case-study in a social-media monitoring scenario will be considered and suggestions on how to bring back the human “into the loop” will be provided. Also some related ethical questions will be briefly considered. It is hoped that this work will inform and provide valuable insight to help improve development of automated social-media monitoring systems.