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Off Balance: Bank of England’s Twitter strategy lost in translation

OMG. Those clever number-crunchers at the Bank of England set up an experiment to see if Twitter could help predict a run on a bank.

Concerns had been raised in the lead-up to last year’s Scottish independence referendum, which Governor Mark Carney had warned “could raise financial stability issues”.

So they wrote a programme to analyse tweets (there’s 500 million of them every day). Suddenly, on 15 September, there was a spike in the number of tweets containing the words ‘run’ and ‘RBs’. Were queues of anxious depositors about to start forming outside the Royal Bank of Scotland?

Nope – it was tweets about the Minnesota Vikings game. ‘RBs’ referred to ‘Running Backs’, not ‘RBS’. “We learnt a lot about social media analysis,” says the slightly embarrassed Bank, “and a little about American Football.”

ROTFL, as they probably don’t say at the Bank of England.

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