Social media data for conservation science: A methodological overview

Tuuli Toivonen, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Christoph Fink, Anna Hausmann, Tuomo Hiippala, Olle Järv, Henrikki Tenkanen, Enrico Di Minin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

276 Citations (Scopus)


Improved understanding of human-nature interactions is crucial to conservation science and practice, but collecting relevant data remains challenging. Recently, social media have become an increasingly important source of information on human-nature interactions. However, the use of advanced methods for analysing social media is still limited, and social media data are not used to their full potential. In this article, we present available sources of social media data and approaches to mining and analysing these data for conservation science. Specifically, we (i) describe what kind of relevant information can be retrieved from social media platforms, (ii) provide a detailed overview of advanced methods for spatio-temporal, content and network analyses, (iii) exemplify the potential of these approaches for real-world conservation challenges, and (iv) discuss the limitations of social media data analysis in conservation science. Combined with other data sources and carefully considering the biases and ethical issues, social media data can provide a complementary and cost-efficient information source for addressing the grand challenges of biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene epoch.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-315
Number of pages18
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


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