April 19, 2010

ePluribus: Ethnicity on Social Networks

AAAI CONFERENCE ON WEBLOGS AND SOCIAL MEDIA (ICWSM)

By: Jonathan Chang, Itamar Rosenn, Lars Backstrom, Cameron Marlow

Abstract

We propose an approach to determine the ethnic break-down of a population based solely on people’s names and data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. We demonstrate that our approach is able to predict the ethnicities of individuals as well as the ethnicity of an entire population better than natural alternatives.

We apply our technique to the population of U.S. Facebook users and uncover the demographic characteristics of ethnicities and how they relate. We also discover that while Facebook has always been diverse, diversity has increased over time leading to a population that today looks very similar to the overall U.S. population.

We also find that different ethnic groups relate to one another in an assortative manner, and that these groups have different profiles across demographics, beliefs, and usage of site features.