Twitter is the research platform of choice for Mohd Anwar, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Anwar is using the social networking site to study the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Last fall he began collaborating with RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute, to study the extent to which social media data can be harnessed as an indicator of the opioid epidemic. His research explores the power of social media to gauge the progression of the opioid crisis in near-real time and to understand how data extracted from social media platforms correlate with ground truths such as drug overdoses.

Anwar gathers, mines and scientifically translates public opioid-related Twitter data in North Carolina, to understand and identify interventional opportunities. In February, he presented preliminary results on the content and changing patterns of opioid-related conversations occurring in the North Carolina Twitterspace, as well as implications for future research comparing subgroups, using larger samples, and integrating additional social media platforms.

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Originally published March 6, 2019.