Can Social Media Predict When You’ll Die?

Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook collect a staggering amount of data points from us, so much data that our social media activity can pretty accurately reveal things from gym habits to the state of our mental well-being. But could social media data do more than just portray how healthy you are now? Could it predict how likely you are to be healthy in the future?

An article from last year covered a Facebook patent related to algorithms that can predict major life changes, including death. Could social media data do more than just portray how healthy you are now and instead look into the future?

Elaine Nsoesie, an assistant professor of global health at the School of Public Health and a data science faculty fellow at the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering at Boston University, studies how digital information and social media can be used for infectious disease and public health surveillance.

Here, she digs into whether it’s feasible for social media data to tell us when we’ll die, based on her own data surveillance research.


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