Semantic Polling launch event, Millbank House, 5 July

Sir Robert WorcesterThe LSE's Media Policy Project and the Hansard Society will host a launch event on 5 July for Nick Anstead and Ben O'Loughlin's policy brief, 'Semantic Polling: The Ethics of Online Public Opinion'. Nick and Ben will introduce the arguments of their briefing, before Sir Robert Worcester (right), Chairman and Founder of public opinion firm MORI, will respond.

The paper outlines how social media firms are using a mix of automated new techniques and more traditional social science methods to understand public opinion in real-time. Anstead and O'Loughlin argue that what is significant about these new techniques is not their capacity to predict the result of any election. Instead, semantic polling lets us understand how public opinion forms and shifts. Paradoxically, statistical processing of Big Data provides us with greater qualitative understanding of public opinion.

However, semantic polling exists in a regulatory black hole. As a new phenomenon that cross-cuts marketing, media and political spheres, it is unclear which agency is responsible for regulating it. Journalists have failed to report on it accurately, and the public seem unaware their views are being permanently monitored. Semantic polling thus creates a number of ethical questions, which the audience will have a chance to debate.

Some places are still available. If you wish to attend please contact

Time: 14:00 - 16:00

Date: 5 July 2012

Place: Archbishops' Room, Millbank House, 1 Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 3JU. 1 Millbank is on the corner of Millbank and Great College Street. Map here.

Thanks to Nate Vaagen for help organising the event.