A Focus on Methods for Linking Online and Offline Data

Stanford, California
June 25, 2018

Location: LK240 Berg B, second floor of the Li Ka Shing Conference Center

Applying web and social media analytics to monitor, study, and perform interventions in the health domain has been an active ongoing area of research. From Google Flu Trends and its derivatives to Zika virus and vaccination rumor tracking, social media is increasingly used as an alternative or supplementary signal of health behaviors and beliefs. As with most social media research, the connection to what is happening offline is of utmost importance. Therefore we focus this installment of a social media and health workshops on methods and issues for offline comparison. The includes accuracy, representativeness, and ultimate usefulness of such data, as well as the privacy and ethics consideration in its use, exemplifying issues pertinent in many domains that intersect with social media in health and beyond such as sociology, economics and computational social science.  


In this workshop we address the question: how does data from Internet sources compare to offline phenomena (collected by traditional means such as medical records or other proxy data sources), at the individual and population-level. Different approaches and data sources are being used; and often there are major challenges that preclude such types of comparisons. Here, we aim to discuss the latest developments in the use of social media data and offline data in health research and applications, advancing the use of social media. While much of the work in the area is happening regarding health, the topic will be of broad relevance to researchers and practitioners in sociology, demography, linguistics and economics. 

We anticipate topics such as the below will be relevant:
    • Establishing cohorts
    • Validation via individual-level data
    • Linking data in infectious disease and well-being 
    • Population data sources for validation
    • Correlation analysis and other statistical methods
    • Privacy, ethics, and informed consent
    • Longitudinal analysis on social media
    • Data quality issues
    • Challenges in comparisons
    • Time series comparisons
    • Spatial analyses
    • Linguistic comparisons


1:30  Keynote 1: Henry Kautz

2:30  Session 1 

Initial Explorations for Patient Routing
Reyyan Yeniterzi, Kerem Durak, Bahadır Şahin, İbrahim Onuralp Yiğit and Engin Zeydan

Understanding and promoting social connectedness using social media
Marcos Baez and Fabio Casati

A Social Network Analysis of Engagement Patterns and Quit Outcomes within Smoking Cessation Intervention Groups on Facebook
Meredith Meacham, Mengnan Zhao, Christopher Yang and Danielle Ramo

Using Social Media to Identify Risk Markers and Predict Relapse in Schizophrenia
Sindhu Kiranmai Ernala, Asra F. Rizvi, Michael L. Birnbaum, John Kane and Munmun De Choudhury

3:30  Coffee Break

3:45  Keynote 2: Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou

4:30  Session 2 

What Do People Tweet When They're Sick? A Preliminary Comparison of Symptom Reports and Twitter Timelines
Ashlynn Daughton, Rumi Chunara and Michael Paul

Towards Health-Aware Food Recommender Systems
Christoph Trattner

Integrating Online and Offline Data in Complex, Sensitive Problem Domains: Experiences from Mental Health
Munmun De Choudhury and Emre Kiciman

5:15  Poster Session & Discussion

Invited Speakers 

Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a Program Director in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch (HCIRB) of the Behavioral Research Program (BRP) at NCI. Her research interests include social media and health, health literacy, patient-provider communication for patients diagnosed with advanced cancer, and mixed methods research. Trained as a sociolinguist, she has expertise in qualitative analyses of health care interactions. She has led a number of NIH initiatives on the role of technology and social media in various areas of health, including funding initiatives on the impact of the changing communication landscape on substance use and addiction as well as cancer prevention and control. Dr. Chou has more than 50 scientific publications, many of which have documented health-related internet use, the impact of social media use, and the utility of qualitative and mixed methods approaches to clinical communication about cancer prognosis and goals of care. Dr. Chou came to the HCIRB from the NCI Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program. Prior to joining NCI, she obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. in Linguistics from Georgetown University.

Henry Kautz is the Robin & Tim Wentworth Director of the Goergen Institute for Data Science and Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester. He has served as department head at AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ, and as a full professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2010 he was elected President of the Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and in 2016 was elected Chair of the AAAS Section on Information, Computing, and Communication. His research in artificial intelligence, pervasive computing, and healthcare applications has led him to be honored as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and Fellow of the AAAI. He has received the IJCAI Computers & Thought Award, the Ubicomp 10-Year Impact award, the AAAI Classic Paper award, and the IAAI Deployed Application award.


  • Workshop papers submission: March 27, 2018 April 28, 2018
  • Workshop paper acceptance notification: April 10, 2018  May 10, 2018
  • ICWSM-18 Workshop Day: June 25, 2018
To allow and welcome for the contributions from groups in different areas, we welcome both submissions on work in progress of varying types: (2-4 page short papers AAAI formatting please), full paper submissions at 8 pages long (at most 10 pages long, including figures and references, AAAI formatting), or half-page abstracts (no formatting requirements). Note that the submitted works will not be included in the conference proceedings, making this a good opportunity for discussing works in progress.

Please follow the formatting guidelines of the main conference: http://www.icwsm.org/2018/submitting/guidelines/


For questions about the workshop, please email the organizers at yelena.mejova@gmail.com


Yelena Mejova
Qatar Computing Research 
Institute, Qatar

Rumi Chunara
New York University, 

Kyriaki Kalimeri
Institute of Scientific 
Interchange, Italy

Michael Paul
University of Colorado, 
Boulder, USA