User experience with tobacco products.

Publicly accessible data from those who post to social media platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, among others, can be used to rapidly capture and describe health-related attitudes and behaviors.  As such, SOMA Lab has numerous projects focused on understanding user experiences with new tobacco products (JUUL, KandyPens) to understand their appeal, and the social and environmental characteristics surrounding their use.

Related Publications

  1. Majmundar A, Kirkpatrick MG, Cruz TB, Unger JB, Allem JP. Characterising KandyPens-related posts to Instagram: implications for nicotine and cannabis use. Tob Control. Epub ahead of print 30 May 2019. PMID: 31147484


Online marketing and promotional activities.

Data pulled from social media platforms, allows for the rapid monitoring and examination of marketing and promotional activities of companies and services that may influence health behaviors, ultimately impacting public health. As such, SOMA Lab has numerous projects aimed at identifying, quantifying, and describing promotional practices of companies across various industries.  

Related Publications

 1. Are electric scooters promoted on social media with safety in mind? A case study on Bird’s Instagram.

2. Return of cartoon to market e-cigarette-related products.

Social bots and unsubstantiated health claims.

Social bots (automated accounts that use artificial intelligence to steer discussions and promote specific ideas or products) have been found to spread unsubstantiated health claims on Twitter, and other social media platforms. For example, in 2017, Jon-Patrick Allem and colleagues were the first to demonstrate that social bots were more than two times as likely to make claims about the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes in smoking cessation compared to non-bots. Unsubstantiated health claims perpetuated by social bots may have offline consequences. As such, SOMA Lab has numerous projects examining the spread of misinformation in a number of health-related domains, including tobacco and cannabis use.

Related Publications

1. Could Social Bots Pose a Threat to Public Health?

2. The Importance of Debiasing Social Media Data to Better Understand E-Cigarette-Related Attitudes and Behaviors.