Yannick Rieder / Simon Kühne

Geospatial Analysis of Social Media Data – A Practical Framework and Applications Using Twitter

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Over the last decade, social media networks have become increasingly popular and play an important role in the everyday communication of people all around the world. Some of the existing social media platforms provide access to their data, thereby offering entirely new possibilities for researchers to study human communication and behavior. In many cases, not only the content of the communication is accessible but also meta information about users, such as their place of residence or current geographic location. By adding a geospatial perspective when analyzing social media data, researchers may be able to bridge the digital social media world, in which people communicate using photos and text, with real-world behavior, where humans are physically present at a certain location at a given time. Thus far, researchers have only rarely made use of this geospatial information, and little is known about the potentials and limitations of the data for research purposes.

With this chapter, we aim to contribute to the existing literature by providing a practical framework for handling and analyzing geospatial social media data. Based on real-world applications using Twitter data, we provide methods, tools, and hands-on examples that can function as reference points in order to enable social scientists and commercial practitioners to incorporate geospatial social media data into their research.