McGee, Jeffrey A (2013-05). Location Prediction in Social Media Based on Tie Strength. Master's Thesis.
We propose a novel network-based approach for location estimation in social media that integrates evidence of the social tie strength between users for improved location estimation. Concretely, we propose a location estimator - FriendlyLocation- that leverages the relationship between the strength of the tie between a pair of users, and the distance between the pair. Based on an examination of over 100 million geo-encoded tweets and 73 million Twitter user profiles, we identify several factors such as the number of followers and how the users interact that can strongly reveal the distance between a pair of users. We use these factors to train a decision tree to distinguish between pairs of users who are likely to live nearby and pairs of users who are likely to live in different areas. We use the results of this decision tree as the input to a maximum likelihood estimator to predict a user's location. We find that this proposed method significantly improves the results of location estimation relative to a state-of-the-art technique. Our system reduces the average error distance for 80% of Twitter users from 40 miles to 21 miles using only information from the user's friends and friends-of-friends, which has great significance for augmenting traditional social media and enriching location-based services with more refined and accurate location estimates.