“New ways of generating political and social insight...”

The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) is a collaboration between Demos and the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex. It produces new political, social and policy insight and understanding through social media research.

Social media is the largest, richest, and most dynamic evidence base for human behaviour, and brings new opportunities to understand groups, movements and society. Social media analytics – the automated collection and analysis of millions of people talking and arguing with one another – has already revolutionised marketing and advertising.

It could revolutionise policy and social research work too. However, as it stands, the current field of social media analytics is inadequate for policy makers: standards of evidence and methodological rigour are not high enough to influence decision or policy-making. Samples of convenience often produce ‘raw’ metrics with no further corroboration, explanation or interpretation. Considerations of culture, context, group, language and psychology are rare, and the ethics of social media research even rarer.

CASM, in collaboration with a wide network of experts and leaders in the field, combines computer science with social science in order to develop social media analysis as a valid instrument of research that meets the needs of policy and decision-makers: ethical, reliable, and useable.


Research Areas

CASM is currently working on the following project areas:

  • Tipping points and thresholds: why do social events happen? From demonstrations to purchasing, a series of permissive conditions and causal factors drive the events around us. This project seeks to learn how social media research can identify the thresholds and tipping points – the difference between an event happening and not happening – of social events.
  • Early detection of emerging events: reporting from citizen journalists on platforms like Twitter often pre-empts mainstream news. This project aims to construct a system that can cut through millions of irrelevant tweets to quickly identify emerging events as they happen.
  • Online and offline groups and movements: digital social spaces are increasingly important venues for established, offline groups and new online-only ones. Social media research can reveal what they care about, what they are talking about, the group’s composition, how they interact with other groups and how this changes over time.
  • Public responses to announcements, speeches and events: polls and surveys that rely on asking explicit questions suffer a number of biases. This project aims to understand, in real-time, how online populations react to external stimuli, and how this can inform our understanding of the offline groups from which they are drawn.
  • Community-level behaviour: this work combines social media research with highly specific qualitative social research to produce insight into particular communities that is valid and sensitive to culture, language and identity.
  • Social media polling of hard to reach groups: this technique provides novel ways of directly surveying difficult to reach groups, from all over the world. Recruiting survey participants from specified groups through social media, Jamie Bartlett ran a survey in 2011 of 13,000 supporters of far right parties in 12 European countries, published as The New Face of Digital Populism. The Centre is a leader in the methods and techniques of this type of polling and will shortly be releasing papers containing data from the first ever social media polls of supporters of the German Pirate Party and the Syriza Party in Greece.
  • Ethics and law in social media collection and analysis: existing guidelines for research ethics can’t always be applied to social media research. We advise on how to conduct social media research according to strict ethical principles that respect the rights of those being researched.

All our outputs are:

  • Reliable: for research to be useful, it needs to be reliable. We will employ and innovate social science techniques to improve the reliability of our work and always be transparent about the limits and weaknesses of any inferences and conclusions drawn.
  • Usable: we will ensure that all our outputs deal with important problems and can be used to inform ways of confronting them. They will make sense to decision-makers, finding the meaning rather than just the metrics in social media. Everything will be simple and without jargon.
  • Ethical: we believe that all social media research should be conducted according to strict principles that respect the rights of those being researched. We are leaders in the development of good ethical research methods for this new environment.

We shortly have research papers being released about online hate speech; the police and Twitter; and new polling of supporters of left-wing populist movements in Europe.


Evidence submission: A Joint Committee of MPs and Lords was convened by the Home Secretary to provide scrutiny on the Draft Communications Bill in the face of wide public concern and criticism by civic society groups.

Jamie Bartlett, Demos' Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media appeared before the Committee on the 17th of October and this is the written submission he and Carl Miller were thereafter asked to provide. It argues for public attitudes to be put at the heart of a system that manages and mitigates the possible harms to privacy entailed by the access of communications data.

Hate speech conference: Carl Miller gave a presentation in Budapest as part of the Council of Europe's 'Tackling hate speech: Living together online' conference. Read the full text of the presentation on research perspective here and watch a video featuring Carl on the topic of online hate speech here.

The team structure

The team consists of a core staff of five, responsible for the delivery of most products. The team is highly experienced and widely published in social media research techniques and policy-making. The Centre also collaborates with a wider network of experts and organisations that advise on various aspects of the work, and provide additional research support where necessary.


Core staff

Jamie Bartlett is Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media.




Jamie is also the Head of the Violence and Extremism Programme at Demos. An expert on research methodology, Jamie is the author of more than 20 Demos pamphlets. He advises a number of international government agencies and related groups in relation to terrorism and extremism, and is a frequent commentator in national and international media. Contact Jamie to find out more about the Centre.


Carl Miller is Research Director of the Centre.




He specialises in the use of social media research to learn about people, ideas, groups and society. He is the co-author of the Demos publications #Intelligence (2012), Truth, Lies and the Internet (2011), The Power of Unreason (2010), and papers for academic journals, the European Commission and the United Nations.


Dr Jeremy Reffin is co-founder of the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex.




Jeremy is Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, with a background in computer programming, venture capital, and private equity investment.


Professor David Weir is co-founder of the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex.




David is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Sussex. His research activities cover a broad range of topics relating to the automatic analysis of text by computers, including distributional semantics, linguistic parsing and sentiment analysis.


Simon Wibberley is an Associate.




Simon Wibberley is a Researcher at the Text Analytics Group. Simon's research interests are in statistical text analytics and he specialises in real-time text stream analysis, event detection, and entity recognition. Current projects include developing state of the art event detection and event characterisation techniques for use on Twitter.


Andrew Robertson is a researcher in the Text Analytics Group.



Andrew Robertson is a researcher in the Text Analytics Group. His research interests lie in extracting and utilising deeper structure from text sources such as Twitter, specialising in dependency parsing, entity linking and relation extraction. Current projects include adapting dependency parsing to deal with the noisy text of tweets, and developing techniques for utilising such structural information in complex sentiment analysis.

Network of experts





Angus Bankes founded and was CTO of Moreover Technologies, a business intelligence and news aggregation service, and pioneer of XML and RSS feeds. Angus currently heads up the incubator JustAddRed and is Chief Information Officer at Skimlinks.





Vicky Beeching is a Theologian and Ethicist specialising in the ethics of social media, and the intersection between technology and religion. She holds degrees from Oxford and is a Visiting Research Fellow in Internet Ethics at Durham University.





Professor Stuart Croft is Pro Vice Chancellor for Research (Arts and Social Sciences) at The University of Warwick. He is also President of the British International Studies Association.





Dr Jeremy Crump is a director for safety and security at Cisco Systems and a visiting senior research fellow at the Leeds University Business School. Jeremy was previously a senior civil servant in the Cabinet Office and the Home Office and director of strategy for the National Policing Improvement Agency.





Charlie Edwards is Director of National Security and Resilience Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. Prior to RUSI he was a Research Leader at the RAND Corporation focusing on Defence and Security and was previously a former Deputy Director for Strategy and Planning in the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism at the Home Office.





Jennifer Evans is Associate Professor of History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She currently heads up a Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada collaborative research project entitled 'Hate 2.0: Combating the Far Right in the Age of Social Technology'.





Catherine Fieschi is the director of Counterpoint, a research and advisory group that focuses on the cultural dynamics of risk. She holds a PhD in Comparative Political Science from McGill University, is a Senior Fellow in the Department of Government at the LSE and is the author of In the Shadow of Democracy (MUP) and of numerous publications on extremism, populism and identity politics.





Christian Gladwell is Director of Human Digital, the social media analysis company, and an expert in the use of social media for policy making.





Professor Chris Hankin is a Professor of Computing Science at Imperial College London and is Director of the Institute for Security Science. He is an advisor to the EU Director General for Information, Society and Media and President of the Scientific Council of INRIA.





Professor Noreena Hertz is an economist, best-selling author and campaigner. She is currently working on a forthcoming book about decision making in a complex world. She is chair of Vox Quorum, a social media analysis company.





Sebastian Kraus is vice-chairman of Asylos, an international network providing case-tailored research for lawyers representing asylum-seekers. He oversees the network's social media research.





Peter Kreko is Director of Political Capital, a policy research and consulting institute in Hungary, and assistant professor at Eötvös Loránd University. He is co-chair of the Preventing Violent Extremism working group of the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network.




Leo Mirani covers technology for Quartz, a global business-news online publication. Prior to joining Quartz, he worked at The Economist. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy and security, digital money, and policy as well as changing business models.





Alberto Nardelli is the Co-founder and CEO of Tweetminster, a media utility that helps people and organisations discover the most relevant content, trends and insight around any topic, industry or market.





Professor Sir David Omand GCB is a visiting professor at King's College London. He is a former UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, Permanent Secretary of the Home Office and Director of GCHQ.





Fran O’Leary is a founder and Director of Lodestone Communications, a strategy and corporate communications consultancy.





Martin Orton is Founding Director of Bold Creative and of The Digital Disruption Project, and an expert in the benefits of digital innovation for social change.





Nick Pickles joined civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch as Director in September 2011, with a background in corporate public relations and technology.





Sam Lincoln is a former senior UK military intelligence officer and Chief Surveillance Inspector with the Office of Surveillance Commissioners.





Alfred Rolington is the CEO of Oxford Analytica and the former CEO of Jane’s Information Group and Chief Executive of Lloyds of London Press Business Publishing.



Philip Sheldrake is Managing Partner of Euler Partners, a social business consultancy. He is also the author of "The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age", a main board director of Intellect, and special advisor to AMEC on the measurement of social media. He leads the measurement and evaluation group at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.



Milo Yiannopoulis is founder and Editor-in Chief of The Kernel. He was previously Consulting Editor (Technology) for and a European contributing editor at TechCrunch. In 2011 and again in 2012, Milo was named one of the 100 most influential people in Britain’s digital economy by WIRED magazine.



The Centre is currently recruiting for interns. We welcome applicants with a background in natural language processing, machine learning, sentiment analysis, social research ethics and statistics.

Please contact Jamie on the details below to find out more.



If you would like to know more about the Centre, or explore options for working together, please contact Jamie Bartlett:

Sir David Omand, Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller, Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller, Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller
Publication Date
Publication Type

This pamphlet outlines a legal, principled grounding for the use of social media for intelligence purposes.

The New Face of Digital Populism
Jamie Bartlett, Jonathan Birdwell, Mark Littler
Publication Date
Publication Type

This report analyses the responses of 10,000 online supporters of European populist political parties and movements, looking at the reasons why people are motivated to join.

Truth, lies and the internet
Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller
Publication Date
Publication Type

This report examines the ability of young people in Britain to critically evaluate information they consume online.

The Data Dialogue
Jamie Bartlett
Publication Date
Publication Type

This report finds high levels of consumer anxiety over data-sharing and argues that they should be given meaningful choice and control over the information they share.

Inside the EDL
Jamie Bartlett, Mark Littler
Publication Date
Publication Type

Innovative research delves to the heart of the English Defence League.

New political actors in Europe: Beppe Grillo and the M5S
Jamie Bartlett, Mark Littler, Duncan McDonnell, Caterina Froio
Publication Date
Publication Type

This report presents the results of a survey of 1,865 Facebook fans of Beppe Grillo and the Movimento 5 Stelle, including data on who they are, what they think, and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism.

Policing in an Information Age
Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller, Jeremy Crump, Lynne Middleton
Publication Date
Publication Type

This report is an in-depth analysis of the police's use of social media to monitor intelligence, engage with the community, and tackle crime.

Virtually Members
Jamie Bartlett, Sid Bennett, Rutger Birnie, Simon Wibberley
Publication Date
Publication Type

This paper uses data analysis of the main political parties' social media supporters, and examines the implications of this new political membership.

Carl Miller, Jamie Bartlett
Publication Date
Publication Type

This paper compiles almost 20,000 tweets including the tag @MetPoliceUK around the Woolwich attack, and argues that social media creates complex challenges for policing.

The state of the art
Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller
Publication Date
Publication Type

This paper is a review of how SOCMINT - social media intelligence - can be drawn from open social media sources.

Vox Digitas
Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller, David Weir, Jeremy Reffin, Simon Wibberley
Publication Date
Publication Type

Social media represent a new digital commons where people join their social and political lives to those around them. This paper examines the potential of listening to these digital voices on Twitter.

Oct 30

The ‘suicide app’

Alex Krasodomski-Jones on where SamaritansRadar went wrong.

Oct 10

Direct democracy?

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

Jun 11

A model for digital democracy

The wiki approach could be what John Bercow is looking for, says Stevie Benton of Wikimedia UK.

Apr 10

The method in the madness

Simon Wibberley of CASM provides a behind the scenes account of the Europe Debate live analysis.

Apr 2

Nick versus Nigel: live analysis

Carl Miller introduces our live analysis of the BBC's debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage.

Mar 20

Tweeting the ballot

Richard Norrie reports on the latest findings into how social media can increase electoral turnout.

Mar 13

The Twitter effect

Alex Krasodomski-Jones on what #Duggan teaches us about how social media and the real world interact.

Feb 11


Jamie Bartlett charts the online reaction to Channel 4's controversial documentary series.

Nov 4

Five ideas to open up intelligence

Carl Miller lays out five ways the security services can become more open.

Sep 11

Is internet surveillance really 'Orwellian'?

Jamie Bartlett on internet surveillance and the totalitarian language used to describe it.

Aug 6

Rules of the internet

Making women feel unwelcome on the internet is nothing new, writes Jamie Bartlett.

Jul 8

How would Labour balance liberty and security?

Jamie Bartlett reflects on Yvette Cooper's speech to Demos earlier today.

Jul 5

Is seeing believing?

Jamie Bartlett offers a cautionary tale from the murky world of Twitter screengrabs.

Jul 5

Who watches the watchmen?

In the wake of repeated intelligence service scandals,  Carl Miller proposes a radical new oversight regime.

Jun 7

Don't be evil

The PRISM revelation is shocking - but not for reasons you'd expect, writes Carl Miller.

Jun 3

What's in a name?

Jamie Bartlett on how political language is distorting the Communications Data Bill debate.

Apr 22

Is Twitter a good source of breaking news?

Jamie Bartlett analyses the strength and limitations of crowdsourcing.

Feb 27

Waiting for Grillo - or Waldo?

Chris Tryhorn asks how close would a British Grillo be to Charlie Brooker's dark fantasy.

Feb 15

How a comedian changed Italian politics

Jamie Bartlett on Beppe Grillo, whose Five Star political movement is currently polling third in the upcoming Italian election.

Feb 11

‘Google for Spies’ is hardly news

Jamie Bartlett argues that mass social media monitoring must be regulated, limited and put on a legal footing.

Oct 12

Why do people support the Front National?

Jamie Bartlett explores the reasons why people support the French populists.

May 15

Women troll each other online

The Daily Mail picks up on Demos research suggesting that women are increasingly likely to use the same misogynistic terms on Twitter that are used against them.

Feb 7

Racist slurs on Twitter

Racist slurs used in more than 10,000 tweets a day according to latest CASM research.

Dec 7

How the internet buys and sells your secrets

This week's issue of the Spectator leads with Jamie Bartlett's article on internet privacy: every year we give away up to £5,000 of data online...

Nov 12

The dangers of teaching kids to code

Carl Miller comments in Forbes on a new policy - teaching children to write computer code in schools - planned for the UK.

Oct 2

Algorithms used for crime prevention

Jamie Bartlett talks to about the remarkable capacity of algorithms to predict the occurrence of crime, and the increasing adoption of such statistical software by state

Sep 24

Blunkett warning over online pornography

BBC News reports former Home Secretary's comments at Demos Labour Conference event 

Jul 20

Don't even think about it

Jamie Bartlett is quoted in an Economist piece on predictive policing.

Jul 8

Intelligence services require greater scrutiny says Labour

Guardian Home Affairs Editor, Alan Travis, trails Yvette Cooper's speech to Demos on balancing security and civil liberties.

Jun 26

Wired report on 'SOCMINT'

Wired Magazine quotes Carl Miller, co-founder of CASM, on the UK's involvement in the Prism scandal.

Jun 19

Bobbies on the tweet

Carl Miller writes on the Telegraph's technology blog about how the police can effectively harness social media. 

Jun 11

Communications surveillance vital to counter terrorism, say UK agencies

Richard Norton-Taylor's article on UK security in the Guardian cites Carl Miller's response in the aftermath of the PRISM leak.

May 6

Everything you've been told about radicalisation Is wrong

Jamie Bartlett talks to Rolling Stone magazine about the implications of the Boston bombings.

Apr 22

Today programme: the Boston bombings and social media

On BBC R4's Today, Jamie Bartlett discusses the response of social media like Twitter and Reddit to the Boston bombings.

Apr 18

Lib Dems 'least loyal' on Twitter

The Telegraph reports on our paper Virtually Members, which found that Liberal Democrat supporters on Twitter are more likely to follow MPs from other parties.

Mar 27

Police urged to regulate 'Twitter snooping'

The Telegraph reports on Jamie Bartlett's recent report, 'Policing in an Information Age'.

Feb 15

Beppe Grillo: Five-star menu

The recent Demos report into supporters of the Italian comedian and populist reveals a 'volatile mixture' of traits, according to the Economist.

Feb 14

Grillo makes five star progress in campaign

The Financial Times draws on recent Demos research into Beppe Grillo, Italian comedian and leader of the Five Star Movement.

Dec 11

The data bill debate must move beyond terrorists and Orwell

In the New Statesman, Jamie Bartlett argues it is wrong  to define the argument over the Draft Communications Bill as one between security and liberty.

Oct 12

Introducing social media intelligence

In this article for the academic journal Intelligence and National Security, Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller and Sir David Omand introduce social media intelligence.

Oct 12

Blogging for freedom

In this essay Jamie Bartlett and Hedda Bjorge Soremshaugen explore the reaction of Norway's right-wing blogosphere to the Breivik attacks.

Sep 24

Twitter will change our response to everything

Carl Miller explains the thinking behind the new Demos initiative, the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) to

Sep 18

Taking social media seriously

The Kernel feature the launch of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM).

Sep 13

The culture of conspiracy theories

Jamie Bartlett untangles the culture of conspiracy theories for the New York Times blog

Aug 9

Rise of the Radicals

Jamie Bartlett explains the popularity of Europe's extremist political parties to The Economist.

Jul 20

Digital Cops

Jamie Bartlett writes about how social media can help to keep the Olympics safe in Prospect magazine.