Below the Samaritans Radar

Jamie Bartlett on the good intentions behind the ‘suicide app’.

A couple of weeks back those decent people at the Samaritans got themselves into a bit of trouble. They released an app on Twitter which allowed a user to use an algorithm to automatically scan the tweets of the people they follow, looking for words associated with depression and suicide. Once spotted, said app sent the user an email which contained that tweet, asking if they felt it was cause for alarm. This innocuous sounding app was called Samaritans Radar. This, to put it mildly, did not...

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 18 Nov 2014
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The ‘suicide app’

Alex Krasodomski-Jones on where SamaritansRadar went wrong.

This morning, the Samaritans announced SamaritansRadar, a tool that flags social media content within your network that might indicate someone is vulnerable. The tool was created by a digital agency – SpreadingJam – and claims to use a ‘specially designed algorithm that looks for specific keywords and phrases’ (which technically doesn’t sound like an algorithm). The intention is probably noble. It’s a good thing that groups like the Samaritans think about...

Posted by Alex Krasodomski-Jones on 30 Oct 2014
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How should I vote?

Jonathan Birdwell and Louis Reynolds announce a new campaign to boost youth political engagement.

Today, Demos and Bite the Ballot are announcing a crowd-funding campaign to build the first ever Voter Advice Application designed for young people. A clever and engaging VAA could help to make history by driving up the youth vote to unprecedented levels. In November, Demos is launching a new report called Like, Share, Vote. The report examines the possibility of using social media to mobilise young people to vote in next year’s general election. One of the potentially most effective t...

Posted by Jonathan Birdwell on 27 Oct 2014
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Direct democracy?

Carl Miller and Alex Krasodomski-Jones on the social media aftershock of the Ukip earthquake.

We wake today into a new political dawn. UKIP has won their first Parliamentary seat, and very nearly got another. Commentators from all sides of politics are, on one point, agreed: this is a big moment, and it feels that the sands are shifting underneath the political status quo that has stood for decades. But apart from the UKIP insurgency, another earthquake was rumbling under Westminster last night: social media. These new social-digital spaces have emerged as an important second front i...

Posted by Carl Miller on 10 Oct 2014
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Statelessness isn't a solution

Taking citizenship away from British radicals isn't a moral or practical solution, argues Louis Reynolds.

With increasing frequency, the withdrawal of British citizenship is being used as a national security tool. Since 2002, 53 people have been stripped of their British citizenship; of these, 48 have had it removed during the Coalition government. Until recently, the Home Secretary had the power to take away a person’s citizenship if doing so was ‘conducive to the public good’ and did not make them stateless. Since the passing of the Immigration Act this year – after a br...

Posted by Louis Reynolds on 10 Sep 2014
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The performance of terrorism

The murder of James Foley is the latest example ‘propagande par le fait’, say Jamie Bartlett and Sarah Williamson.

It is an image we won’t forget: of what appears to be the US journalist James Foley being decapitated by an Islamic State militant. Alas this type of disgusting and gruesome act fits the historic pattern of acts of terrorism from across the political and religious spectrum: the ‘propagande par le fait’; the idea that the performance of the crime is as important as the level of violence executed. It has been a common staple of terrorist activity for over a century....

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 21 Aug 2014
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We need to talk about ESOL

Teaching migrants English is a vital policy challenge. We need a national strategy, argues Neil Stevenson.

The English language is a cornerstone of British society. However, around 850,000 people self-reported poor or very poor levels of English in the 2011 Census.  Currently, adult migrants with low levels of English study under the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) framework, which is overseen by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. This gap between supply and demand, revealed in a Demos report published today, represents a significant policy challenge, and demons...

Posted by Neil Stevenson on 19 Aug 2014
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Scotland decides. What about Twitter?

Follow Demos' real time analysis of Twitter's response to the Scottish Independence debate.

At 8pm tonight head of the Better Together Campaign Alistair Darling faces SNP leader Alex Salmond in a televised debate about Scotland’s future. It’s the first, and only, debate between the two big hitters before Scotland decides the fate of the Union on 18 September: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" But the debate won't just be taking place at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. It will also unfold in the sitting rooms of the millions o...

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 05 Aug 2014
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Common wealth

Jonathan Todd investigates the benefits of hosting major sporting events.

The Commonwealth Games began in Scotland this week with great fanfare, shortly after the football World Cup came to an end in Brazil. Beyond the opening ceremonies and sporting glamour, the hosting of such events is always subject to economic scrutiny: are they worth the money they cost? Rio de Janeiro will also host the Olympics and Paralympics in two years time. Rarely, if ever, has one country witnessed two such high profile events in such quick succession. This has not been without contr...

Posted by Jonathan Todd on 25 Jul 2014
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Gaps within gaps

Ally Paget reacts to the Education Select Committee's findings of educational inequality.

Today sees the release of a report by the Commons Education Select Committee that shows poor white British students – both boys and, more unexpectedly, girls – are lagging behind their peers from other ethnicities. Just 32 per cent of disadvantaged white British children attain five GCSEs at A*-C, ten percentage points below the next lowest achieving major ethnic group (black Caribbean students).  A silver lining of the Committee’s report is the finding that students i...

Posted by Ally Paget on 18 Jun 2014
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