The findings also highlight policy challenges and opportunities for US in the Middle East, said Amaney Jamal, a professor of politics at Princeton University who conducted the research with colleagues at Harvard University.
"Can US alter the image of itself in the region, especially in this era of terrorism where groups like ISIS are mobilizing on anti-American platforms? The policy implications are serious," Jamal said.
The researchers used a tool created by Boston-based social media analytic firm Crimson Hexagon to examine Arabic reaction on Twitter to major events in 2012 and 2013.
The events included Hurricane Sandy striking US, the possible US intervention in the Syrian civil war, the firestorm over the 'Innocence of Muslims video,' the Boston Marathon bombing and the removal of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Crimson Hexagon's analytical tool used search terms and sample tweets organized by the researchers around each event to identify and categorize all relevant tweets mentioning US from among every public posting on Twitter.
"If you want to know how people in a given society who are on Twitter are reacting to events in real time, this is a great way to find out, so long as there is no systematic censorship," said Robert Keohane, a professor of public and international affairs at Princeton and one of the researchers.
The analytic tool identified and categorized more than 2.2 million Arabic tweets around the time of the overthrow of Morsi in 2013that mentioned US.
Just 3 percent of the tweets were categorized as pro-American. About 23 percent were categorized as neutral, but the rest were critical of US, with criticism coming from backers of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the Egyptian military, researchers said.
"No matter which side of the domestic dispute an individual was on, he or she was likely to be opposed to US," the researchers said.
"Rather than an enemy of an enemy being a friend, US is consistently cast as an enemy," they said.     

Similarly, in analyzing tweets regarding the Syrian civil war, "97 percent of tweeters who expressed political views are antagonistic towards US, despite the fact that US opposed the Assad regime, which was also opposed by many Arab tweeters," the researchers said.     

In contrast, an examination of tweets in reaction to Hurricane Sandy striking US found that nearly 30 percent of Arabic tweets offering an opinion expressed concern about Americans, defended Americans or were positive towards US government's response.
"Reactions to cases where the US is influencing Middle Eastern affairs are 95 percent to 99 percent negative," Keohane said.

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