AAAI Publications, Ninth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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Population Bias in Geotagged Tweets
Momin M. Malik, Hemank Lamba, Constantine Nakos, Jürgen Pfeffer

Last modified: 2015-04-22


Geotagged tweets are an exciting and increasingly popular data source, but like all social media data, they potentially have biases in who are represented. Motivated by this, we investigate the question, 'are users of geotagged tweets randomly distributed over the US population'? We link approximately 144 million geotagged tweets within the US, representing 2.6m unique users, to high-resolution Census population data and carry out a statistical test by which we answer this question strongly in the negative. We utilize spatial models and integrate further Census data to investigate the factors associated with this nonrandom distribution. We find that, controlling for other factors, population has no effect on the number of geotag users, and instead it is predicted by a number of factors including higher median income, being in an urban area, being further east or on a coast, having more young people, and having high Asian, Black or Hispanic/Latino populations.


Twitter; bias; representative; geotagged; geocoded; spatial errors

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