“I Don’t Have a Photograph, But You Can Have My Footprints." – Revealing the Demographics of Location Data


  • Christopher Riederer Columbia University
  • Sebastian Zimmeck Columbia University
  • Coralie Phanord Columbia University
  • Augustin Chaintreau Columbua University
  • Steven Bellovin Columbia University




demographics, location data, photosharing, instagram


High accuracy location data are routinely available to a plethora of mobile apps and web services. The availability of such data lead to a better general understanding of human mobility. However, as location data are usually not associated with demographic information, little work has been done to understand the differences in human mobility across demographics. In this study we begin to fill the void. In particular, we explore how the growing number of geotagged footprints that social network users create can reveal demographic attributes and how these footprints enable the understanding of mobility at a demographic level. Our methodology gives rise to novel opportunities in the study of mobility. We leverage publicly available geotagged photographs from a popular photosharing network to build a dataset on demographic mobility patterns. Our analysis of this dataset not only reproduces previous results on mobility behavior at various geographical levels but further extends the existing picture: it allows for the refinement of mobility modeling from entire populations to specific demographic groups. Our analysis suggests the existence of regional variations in mobility and reveals statistically significant differences in mobility between genders and ethnicities.




How to Cite

Riederer, C., Zimmeck, S., Phanord, C., Chaintreau, A., & Bellovin, S. (2021). “I Don’t Have a Photograph, But You Can Have My Footprints." – Revealing the Demographics of Location Data. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 9(1), 682-685. https://doi.org/10.1609/icwsm.v9i1.14670