Cultivating the Community: Inferring Influence within Eating Disorder Networks on Twitter
Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 6(GROUP)
A growing body of HCI research has sought to understand how online networks are utilized in the adoption and maintenance of disordered activities and behaviors associated with mental illness, including eating habits. However, individual-level influences over discrete online eating disorder (ED) communities are not yet well understood. This study reports results from a comprehensive network and content analysis (combining computational topic modeling and qualitative thematic analysis) of over 32,000 public tweets collected using popular ED-related hashtags during May 2020. Our findings indicate that this ED network in Twitter consists of multiple smaller ED communities where a majority of the nodes are exposed to unhealthy ED contents through retweeting certain influential central nodes. The emergence of novel linguistic indicators and trends (e.g., "#meanspo") also demonstrates the evolving nature of the ED network. This paper contextualizes ED influence in online communities through node-level participation and engagement, as well as relates emerging ED contents with established online behaviors, such as self-harassment.
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Nova, Fayika Farhat; Coupe, Amanda; Mynatt, Elizabeth D.; Guha, Shion PhD; and Pater, Jessica, "Cultivating the Community: Inferring Influence within Eating Disorder Networks on Twitter" (2022). Health Services and Informatics Research. 84.