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How Social Media Can Help Gauge Societal Health

Hundreds of millions of people use social media in the U.S. A computational social scientist explains how to harness the technology to measure mental and physical well-being.

illustration of brightly colored silhouettes using phones

Are U.S. adults happy? Sad? Depressed? One can answer these questions by calling thousands of people and surveying their psychological state, a strategy that’s both costly and time-consuming.

But with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence, you can also measure a population’s well-being by turning to social media platforms and tracking what millions of people are talking about.

In this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything, computational social scientist Johannes Eichstaedt and host, bioengineer and Stanford HAI Associate Director Russ Altman, discuss how social media can be used to gauge a population’s psychological state, including how events like COVID-19 have impacted well-being. They also discuss how social media has the potential to work as an early warning system for public health crises to help cities and counties deploy resources where they’re most needed. 


Stanford HAI’s mission is to advance AI research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition. Learn more

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