Sentiment of Armed Forces Social Media Accounts in the United Kingdom: An Initial Analysis of Twitter Content
Leightley D., Sharp M., Williamson V., Fear NT., Gribble R.
© 2020, The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Prior research on the United Kingdom (UK) public’s perception towards the British Armed Forces often found a contradicting understanding of the military as both ‘heroes’ and ‘victims’. In order to examine these contradictions further, this study examined public attitudes and perceptions of the British Armed Forces, using a sentiment analysis of Twitter content posted on or after 1 January 2014. Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, with an estimated 126 million daily active users worldwide, and 17 million active users in the UK. A bespoke data collection platform was developed to identify and extract relevant tweets and replies. In total, 323,512 tweets and 17,234 replies were identified and analysed. We found that tweets related to or discussing the British Armed Forces were significantly more positive than negative, with public perceptions of the Armed Forces stable over time. We also observed that it was more likely for negative tweets to be posted late evening or early morning compared to other hours of the day. Furthermore, this study identified differences in how positive and negative tweets were discussed in relation to politicised hashtags concerning Government policy, political organisations, and mental health. This was an unexpected finding, and more research is required to understand the reasons as to why this is the case.