Training workshop on Social Media and Demographic Methods

Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, 17 October 2016 


The IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes organized a training workshop on Social Media and Demographic Methods on 17 October. The workshop was facilitated by Emilio Zagheni (University of Washington –United States), with the assistance of Julio Ortega (Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) – Ecuador).


The half-day hands-on workshop focused on accessing social media data and using demographic methods to analyze this data. It provided an introduction to tools such as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for collecting data from social media (e.g., Twitter tweets and Facebook public pages), and offered examples of demographic methods that could be used to gain insights from these data (e.g., estimating Twitter growth rate from a cross-section of tweets).


In the morning, about 60 registered participants representing a number of disciplines and countries attended the lectures and participated in a hands-on lab about collecting and analyzing social media data using the R programming language for statistical computing. In the afternoon, one-on-one meetings prompted stimulating questions and conversations. 













 All the workshop material, including R code to access Twitter data and Facebook public pages is available on github at:


A mailing list ( was set up in order to facilitate communication among researchers interested in Web data, social media data and demography. Anyone who is interested in joining the mailing list can do so by following instructions on this webpage:


The workshop is part of a series of training opportunities offered by IUSSP to support demographers’ participation in the “Data Revolution”. Similar training workshops were held before at the 2016 meeting of the Population Association of America and at the 2016 European Population Conference.


Funding: Financial support was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to the IUSSP and the Population Association of America (PAA) to support demographers' participation in the Data Revolution.