Monitoring opiates abuse on social media: a new paper presented at The Web Conference in San Francisco

In the last decade drug overdose deaths reached staggering proportions in the US, with a steep acceleration of yearly deaths by 21% from 2015 to 2016. While traditional public health surveillance suffers from its own biases and limitations, digital epidemiology offers a new lens to extract signals from web and social media that might be complementary to official statistics.

In a new paper that will be presented at The Web Conference 2019 in San Francisco, Firsthand opiates abuse on social media: monitoring geospatial patterns of interest through a digital cohort,a team of ISI Foundation researchers (Applied Data Science Manager Paolo Bajardi, Research Leader André Panisson and Duilio Balsamo) proposes a computational approach to identify a digital cohort that might provide an updated and complementary view on the opioid crisis.

Scientists introduce an information retrieval algorithm suitable to identify relevant subspaces of discussion on social media, by mining data from users showing explicit interest in discussions about opioid consumption in Reddit (also demonstrating how information disclosed by users can help to estimate their geographical location). They also provide an open domain specific vocabulary, containing informal lexicon and street nomenclature extracted by user-generated content that can be used to implement novel digital public health surveillance methodologies in fighting the opioid epidemic. This work will be part of the Poster Session at The Web Conference, May 16th at 14.00.

Firsthand opiates abuse on social media: monitoring geospatial patterns of interest through a digital cohort”, The Web Conference (Hyatt Regency San Francisco Hotel, San Francisco), Poster Session, Thursday May 16th, 14.00. Paper link