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Tobacco Posts Social Media of Vulnerable, At-Risk Groups

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Investigator(s): John Ayers, Ph.D., M.A.
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 28) Grant #: 28KT-0004 Award: $748,149
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: New Investigator Awards

Initial Award Abstract

Social media users are posting about their tobacco related behaviors daily, providing a volume of data that before was unprecedented. While social media data have already made significant contributions to tobacco control knowledge, the key question -- “among whom?” -- goes unanswered, because investigators have been unable to subdivide social media trends and link them to specific demographic groups. Our goal is to incorporate demographic identification into tobacco control studies using social media. Using state of the art technologies from computer science, we will identify the demographic profiles of Twitter users discussing tobacco in California. Then, using proven data driven analytics tools, we will assess the tobacco-related risk profiles of different populations, including vulnerable minority and at-risk groups to help the tobacco control agenda in California better align with the needs of Californians. Further, we will demonstrate how our methods can be easily applied and scaled to answer specific questions about tobacco in California, by studying health perceptions around tobacco products and the potential spread of fake tobacco news on social media. Our proposed surveillance improvements will potentially make all tobacco control efforts in California more evidenced-based, nimble, and effective.