This website came my way last night, via Twitter – where else? The bold and links added are mine:
The Collaborative Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS) is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) strategic “Big Data” investment that brings together social, computer, political, health, statistical and mathematical scientists to study the methodological, theoretical, empirical and technical dimensions of social media data in social and policy contexts. This empirical data science programme is complemented by a focus on the ethical impact of big social data and the development of new methodological tools and technical/data solutions for the UK academic and public sectors. Our £1.5M research programme has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research Programme (Global Uncertainties Programme), Joint Information Systems Committee, Department of Health, Food Standards Agency, High Performance Computing Wales/Fujitsu, Welsh Government and Airbus Group.
Bit of a mixed bag, as you might see. The formerly-known-as Global Uncertainties Programme now has this remit:
As a result of these recommendations the Global Uncertainties Programme has become the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme). The partnership consists of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as core members, while BBSRC, MRC and STFC will continue their engagement as affiliated members. The Partnership will build upon fruitful collaboration established to date and will continue to develop links with a range of external partners in government, business and third sector organisations.
The partnership will focus new initiatives in the core areas of:
- Transnational organised crime
We all know the Department of Health, of course – how it looks to protect the best of the NHS for
the people of Britain profit-scraping entities from across the world. And then we have the Welsh Government, also seeming to want to play its curious part.
Academic sponsors of COSMOS include Cardiff University, the University of St Andrews and my old – much beloved – Warwick University.
But it’s the next page – in the light of the above, naturally – which I’d really like to focus your attention on this morning:
Research on social media and suicide
Funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme
This goes on to explain:
This research project uses some of the tools of computer science to understand the relationship between social media and suicide.
And (again, the bold and links are mine):
With specialist software to analyse language, it’s possible to look for patterns in large amounts of data from social media. We are only studying stuff which is public and can be viewed by anyone, such as postings to Twitter, Tumblr and open Facebook groups. No accounts which use privacy settings so that postings are protected can be used in the research.
These are the different kinds of social media postings we are collecting in 2014 (ending Jan 2015).
– Tweets and Tumblr posts which contain language connected to suicide
– Tweets which mention young people who have died through suicide or road traffic accidents
– Open Facebook memorial groups for young people who have died through suicide or road traffic accidents
I ask myself.
In completely good faith, mind.
Is this the trail of money, interested parties and hangers-on various that leads from the Department of Health – and maybe other state/public sector organisations – to the #SamaritansRadar project?
If it is, what exactly are all their overarching motivations here? How do these wildly varying institutions find a common interest?
And what, precisely, is the nature of these common interests?