Using Social Media for Health Studies
Senior scientist in the Social Computing group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI)

In this presentation, I’ll give an overview of research at the Qatar Computing Research Institute on using social media for health studies. Most of our work is related to understanding lifestyle diseases such as obesity and obesity and has a two-fold goal: (i) monitoring population health and health-related lifestyles, and (ii) combining social media and quantified self data for a more complete and holistic patient view.

Concerning population-level studies, I’ll present results on using food mentions on Twitter (CHI’15) and Instagram images (CHI’16) for modeling regional variations in obesity and diabetes rates. I’ll also discuss a feasibility study on crowdsourcing “does this person look overweight” labels (DigitalHealth’16).

On the combination of quantified self and social media data, I’ll show how tweets from smart scales create an interesting data linking the two domains (DigitalHealth’16). I’ll also discuss ongoing work on using sleep tracking appspublic food diaries, and shared blood glucose levels.

If there’s time, then I’ll also discuss the aspect of behavioral change and the importance of receiving social feedback on continued participation in a weight loss subreddit (DigitalHealth’16).

Ingmar is a senior scientist in the Social Computing group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). His interdisciplinary research uses large amounts of online data from social media and other sources to study human behavior at scale. Particular topics of interest include studying lifestyle diseases, looking at political polarization and extremism, and quantifying international migration using digital methods. As an undergraduate he studied mathematics at Cambridge University (1999-2003), before pursuing a PhD at the Max-Planck Institute for Computer Science (2003-2007). He subsequently held positions at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (2007-2009) and Yahoo Research Barcelona (2009-2012), as well as a visiting researcher position at Microsoft Research Cambridge (summer 2008). He serves on a number of program committees for top-tier conferences in the domain of web data mining and social media analysis including ICWSM, KDD, WSDM, WWW, and VLDB. Ingmar has co-edited a Cambridge University Press book titled “Twitter: A Digital Socioscope”. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and his work is frequently featured in popular press. Recently, he has been selected as an ACM Distinguished Speaker.