Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Science

Svitlana Volkova, David Jurgens, Dirk Hovy, David Bamman, Oren Tsur (Editors)

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Science
Svitlana Volkova | David Jurgens | Dirk Hovy | David Bamman | Oren Tsur

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Geolocating Political Events in Text
Andrew Halterman

This work introduces a general method for automatically finding the locations where political events in text occurred. Using a novel set of 8,000 labeled sentences, I create a method to link automatically extracted events and locations in text. The model achieves human level performance on the annotation task and outperforms previous event geolocation systems. It can be applied to most event extraction systems across geographic contexts. I formalize the eventlocation linking task, describe the neural network model, describe the potential uses of such a system in political science, and demonstrate a workflow to answer an open question on the role of conventional military offensives in causing civilian casualties in the Syrian civil war.

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Neural Network Prediction of Censorable Language
Kei Yin Ng | Anna Feldman | Jing Peng | Chris Leberknight

Internet censorship imposes restrictions on what information can be publicized or viewed on the Internet. According to Freedom House’s annual Freedom on the Net report, more than half the world’s Internet users now live in a place where the Internet is censored or restricted. China has built the world’s most extensive and sophisticated online censorship system. In this paper, we describe a new corpus of censored and uncensored social media tweets from a Chinese microblogging website, Sina Weibo, collected by tracking posts that mention ‘sensitive’ topics or authored by ‘sensitive’ users. We use this corpus to build a neural network classifier to predict censorship. Our model performs with a 88.50 % accuracy using only linguistic features. We discuss these features in detail and hypothesize that they could potentially be used for censorship circumvention.

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Using time series and natural language processing to identify viral moments in the 2016 U.S. Presidential DebateU.S. Presidential Debate
Josephine Lukito | Prathusha K Sarma | Jordan Foley | Aman Abhishek

This paper proposes a method for identifying and studying viral moments or highlights during a political debate. Using a combined strategy of time series analysis and domain adapted word embeddings, this study provides an in-depth analysis of several key moments during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. First, a time series outlier analysis is used to identify key moments during the debate. These moments had to result in a long-term shift in attention towards either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (i.e., a transient change outlier or an intervention, resulting in a permanent change in the time series). To assess whether these moments also resulted in a discursive shift, two corpora are produced for each potential viral moment (a pre-viral corpus and post-viral corpus). A domain adaptation layer learns weights to combine a generic and domain-specific (DS) word embedding into a domain adapted (DA) embedding. Words are then classified using a generic encoder+ classifier framework that relies on these word embeddings as inputs. Results suggest that both Clinton and Trump were able to induce discourse-shifting viral moments, though the former is much better at producing a topically-specific discursive shift.

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Stance Classification, Outcome Prediction, and Impact Assessment : NLP Tasks for Studying Group Decision-MakingNLP Tasks for Studying Group Decision-Making
Elijah Mayfield | Alan Black

In group decision-making, the nuanced process of conflict and resolution that leads to consensus formation is closely tied to the quality of decisions made. Behavioral scientists rarely have rich access to process variables, though, as unstructured discussion transcripts are difficult to analyze. Here, we define ways for NLP researchers to contribute to the study of groups and teams. We introduce three tasks alongside a large new corpus of over 400,000 group debates on Wikipedia. We describe the tasks and their importance, then provide baselines showing that BERT contextualized word embeddings consistently outperform other language representations.

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Modeling Behavioral Aspects of Social Media Discourse for Moral Classification
Kristen Johnson | Dan Goldwasser

Political discourse on social media microblogs, specifically Twitter, has become an undeniable part of mainstream U.S. politics. Given the length constraint of tweets, politicians must carefully word their statements to ensure their message is understood by their intended audience. This constraint often eliminates the context of the tweet, making automatic analysis of social media political discourse a difficult task. To overcome this challenge, we propose simultaneous modeling of high-level abstractions of political language, such as political slogans and framing strategies, with abstractions of how politicians behave on Twitter. These behavioral abstractions can be further leveraged as forms of supervision in order to increase prediction accuracy, while reducing the burden of annotation. In this work, we use Probabilistic Soft Logic (PSL) to build relational models to capture the similarities in language and behavior that obfuscate political messages on Twitter. When combined, these descriptors reveal the moral foundations underlying the discourse of U.S. politicians online, across differing governing administrations, showing how party talking points remain cohesive or change over time.across differing governing administrations, showing how party talking points remain cohesive or change over time.