Conference paper Open Access

Spatial-Temporal Patterns in Twitter Activity Related to 'Fracking' in Great Britain

Bartie, Phil; Dickie, Jen; Varley, Adam; Ryder, Stacia; Evensen, Darrick; Devine-Wright, Patrick; Whitmarsh, Lorraine

This research explores the spatial variation of 317 million UK based geotweets as a measure of the level online public engagement with shale gas extraction (‘fracking’) in Great Britain. Fracking has proven to be a contentious issue and has received wide news coverage. This analysis was carried out to compare the spatial distribution of online activity related to shale gas exploration sites. To normalise the results for population density a c-squared expectation surface was calculated revealing higher than expected levels of interested near the active fracking site of Preston New Road and licenced extraction blocks in Lancashire. The level of sustained engagement was measured by time slicing the map, as well monitoring distinct Twitter accounts to reduce the impact of bots and over enthusiastic users. The conclusion is that spatial proximity of energy infrastructure projects does appear to play a part in the patterns of online engagement.

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