Congratulations to Oliver Haimson and Kate Ringland, whose team project was accepted for inclusion in the 2014 Social Media Expo, sponsored by Microsoft FUSE Labs. The Social Media Expo is part of the iConference in Berlin, Germany, and Oliver and Kate’s team will receive a travel award to attend the conference. The project is titled “Using Depression Analytics to Reduce Stigma via Social Media: BlueFriends“, and is co-authored with Informatics PhD students Simone Simpson and Chris Wolf.

Stigma associated with depression and mental illness is a widespread problem, often leading to negative health outcomes and discrimination for people with these conditions. Common stigma reduction interventions focus on two strategies: education (increasing basic understanding of the condition) and social contact (humanizing or ‘putting a face’ to the condition). These interventions have been explored in various formats, but little is known about the potential of leveraging online social media outlets to reduce stigma. We propose BlueFriends, an application that seeks to reduce stigma by displaying a shareable information visualization graphic aimed at increasing both education and social contact. This application will employ a predictive model of depression detection on Facebook. It will visualize the potential proportion of depression in a user’s online social network and display an interactive comparison of depression prevalence with other common prevalence levels in the US. BlueFriends expands current stigma reduction interventions by leveraging online social environments. By creating customized visualizations that users can share within their network, we hypothesize that BlueFriends will prompt collective stigma reduction and societal depression awareness.

More about the Social Media Expo:

The iConference, in collaboration with FUSE Labs of Microsoft Research, is pleased to announce the second iConference Social Media Expo. The exposition is designed to showcase exceptional interdisciplinary research and development work from iSchool programs specializing in social media. Students are asked to form interdisciplinary teams of 3-5 students to conduct a specific research, design, development or community-engagement project. Each project should explore a technological solution to meeting a concrete need or opportunity around the theme of leveraging social media to foster a smarter society.

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