Social Media Data

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The statistical community has the obligation of exploring the use of new data sources, such as Big Data, to meet the expectation of the society for enhanced products and improved and more efficient ways of working. Big Data could also support the monitoring of the Post-2015 development goals by improving timeliness and relevance of indicators without compromising their impartiality and methodological soundness. The report of the Global Working Group (GWG) to the Statistical Commission (E/CN.3/2015/4) provides additional background to the work of the task team, where the Terms of Reference of the GWG serves as general reference, but each task team also has its own specific terms.

The task team on Social Media Data is created as a separate team, since Social Media Data has surfaced in recent years as one of the Big Data sources with a lot of promise. Whereas Satellite Imagery or Mobile Phone Data are relatively well-defined as data sources, Social Media is more of a mixed basket, which will need to be further clarified by this task team. Maybe a general denominator of such data is that they are disseminated throught the Internet; further, most data are text messages, images, video or searches voluntarily submitted by persons.

In its 2014 “Measuring the Information Society Report”, ITU estimates that 40% (almost 3 billion people) were using the Internet by the end of 2014, meaning that 60% were not using the Internet. Moreover, Internet usage varies considerably across regions, ranging from 75% in Europe to only 19% in Africa, and this should be taken into consideration in the possible application of Social Media data for monitoring Post-2015 goals and targets.


Against this background, the task team should clarify which kind of social media data can be collected, how it can be collected, how it can be analyzed and processed into statistics, useful for policy purposes.

More specific objectives are (1) executing one or more pilot projects on the use of social media data for official statistics and (2) documenting and publishing the lessons learned, as well as (3) preparing and maintaining a knowledge base on the use of these data.

If possible, the task team will develop tools and applications, which can be used by the statistical community. It will also develop templates of project plans, which could be used by interested countries.


  1. Develop a pilot project in Mexico
  2. Participate in a pilot project of the Sandbox in Ireland
  3. 4. Develop a knowledge base for the use of Social Media data, starting with an inventory of ongoing activities



  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands


  • Eurostat
  • ITU
  • UN Global Pulse
  • UNSD
  • World Bank
  • University of Pennsylvania