April 14, 2024


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Study reveals flaws in using social media to identify race and ethnicity for health research

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By using social media information, scientists can get insights into patients’ experiences that are usually disregarded or or else tricky to achieve. Social media also supplies knowledge extra immediately than common epidemiological experiments, which can get a long time to comprehensive.


If researchers are equipped to establish important demographics of social media users they can help detect who is above or underrepresented and can assist place trends and get data on the views and ordeals of diverse groups.

Although prior experiments have looked at extracting or estimating characteristics this sort of as area, age, gender, language, profession and course, this research is the to start with extensive review of the procedures utilized to extract race or ethnicity.

The authors of the research, led by the College of York and revealed in the Journal of Health-related Internet Exploration, say they have determined moral concerns and doubts above the reliability of working with Twitter to evaluate ethnicity or race from a consumer.

They say if the limitations are not addressed it could diminish the value of the information located.

The research, which looked at Twitter end users in the U.S, uncovered that scientists often rely on the details from the bios of Twitter buyers, as very well as images and the tweets by themselves, typically analyzing the language employed and figuring out any self-declarations.


Direct author, Dr. Su Golder from the University of York’s Section of Well being Sciences, says that “extracting race and ethnicity of Twitter users is especially crucial to detect traits, activities and attitudes of racially and ethnically diverse populations.”

“But we have to have to be delicate to the strategies employed and mindful of bias. For illustration, when researchers glimpse at photos they have an inclination to understand their personal race and employing someone’s title has negatives for girls who typically get their partner’s title.”

The research authors say one more problem is the over-simplification of race into Black, White and Asian.

The scientists suggest several new ways to enhance determining race or ethnicity from social media, like more consultant exploration groups, a combination of guide and computational strategies and pinpointing self-declarations.


Dr. Golder included that “the charm of Twitter knowledge is very clear as it is one of the major public going through social media platforms, with an ethnically varied consumer base.”

“On the other hand, the promising insights that can be derived from Twitter info are usually constrained by what is lacking, specially simple socio-demographic facts of every user.”

“In purchase to use social media and electronic health study to tackle disparities, we want to know not only what is claimed on Twitter, but also who is saying what.”

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Additional info:
Su Golder et al, Methods to Establish Race or Ethnicity of Twitter Users: Scoping Evaluate, Journal of Health care World-wide-web Investigate (2022). DOI: 10.2196/35788

Presented by
University of York

Research reveals flaws in using social media to recognize race and ethnicity for health and fitness study (2022, Could 27)
retrieved 1 June 2022
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-reveals-flaws-social-media-ethnicity.html

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