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


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By working with social media knowledge, researchers can get insights into patients’ experiences that are often forgotten or in any other case hard to attain. Social media also delivers data far more promptly than standard epidemiological research, which can get years to complete.


If researchers are ready to recognize critical demographics of social media users they can assist recognize who is about or underrepresented and can support spot trends and assemble data on the sights and experiences of varied teams.

While prior reports have appeared at extracting or estimating features these types of as area, age, gender, language, occupation and class, this examine is the to start with thorough evaluate of the techniques employed to extract race or ethnicity.

The authors of the research, led by the College of York and posted in the Journal of Professional medical Net Research, say they have identified moral considerations and uncertainties about the reliability of using Twitter to consider ethnicity or race from a person.

They say if the constraints are not dealt with it could diminish the price of the info found.

The review, which appeared at Twitter people in the U.S, identified that researchers often depend on the data from the bios of Twitter buyers, as properly as pics and the tweets on their own, frequently analyzing the language made use of and determining any self-declarations.


Lead creator, Dr. Su Golder from the College of York’s Division of Health Sciences, claims that “extracting race and ethnicity of Twitter users is particularly important to identify traits, activities and attitudes of racially and ethnically varied populations.”

“But we will need to be sensitive to the strategies utilised and conscious of bias. For instance, when researchers search at shots they have an inclination to perceive their very own race and employing someone’s identify has drawbacks for females who often get their partner’s name.”

The research authors say a different trouble is the above-simplification of race into Black, White and Asian.

The researchers suggest various new methods to strengthen figuring out race or ethnicity from social media, which include additional representative research teams, a combination of manual and computational approaches and pinpointing self-declarations.


Dr. Golder additional that “the appeal of Twitter facts is distinct as it is 1 of the greatest community going through social media platforms, with an ethnically assorted user base.”

“On the other hand, the promising insights that can be derived from Twitter data are often minimal by what is lacking, specially primary socio-demographic info of every single person.”

“In order to use social media and digital overall health research to deal with disparities, we need to have to know not only what is reported on Twitter, but also who is indicating what.”

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Extra info:
Su Golder et al, Techniques to Build Race or Ethnicity of Twitter Buyers: Scoping Review, Journal of Professional medical World wide web Analysis (2022). DOI: 10.2196/35788

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University of York

Study reveals flaws in using social media to detect race and ethnicity for health research (2022, May 27)
retrieved 31 May 2022

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