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

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#PrayForDad: Learning the Semantics Behind Why Social Media Users Disclose Health Information
Zhijun Yin, You Chen, Daniel Fabbri, Jimeng Sun, Bradley Malin

Last modified: 2016-03-31


User-generated content in social media is increasingly acknowledged as a rich resource for research into health problems. One particular area of interest is in the semantics individuals’ evoke because they can influence when health-related information is disclosed. While there have been multiple investigations into why self-disclose occurs, much less is known about when individuals choose to disclose information about other people (e.g., a relative), which is a significant privacy concern. In this paper, we introduce a novel framework to investigate how semantics influence disclosure routines for 34 health issues. This framework begins with a supervised classification model to distinguish tweets that communicate personal health issues from confounding concepts (e.g., metaphorical statements that include a health-related keyword). Next, we annotate tweets for each health issue with linguistic and psychological categories (e.g. social processes, affective processes and personal concerns). Then, we apply a non-negative matrix factorization over a health issue-by-language category space. Finally, the factorized basis space is leveraged to group health issues into natural aggregations based around how they are discussed. We evaluate this framework with four months of tweets (over 200 million) and show that certain semantics correspond with whom a health mention pertains to. Our findings show that health issues related with family members, high medical cost and social support (e.g., Alzheimer's Disease, cancer, and Down syndrome) lead to tweets that are more likely to disclose another individual's health status, while tweets with more benign health issues (e.g., allergy, arthritis, and bronchitis) with biological processes (e.g., health and ingestion) and negative emotions are more likely to contain self-disclosures.

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