A little bird told me your gender: Gender inferences in social media

Fosch-Villaronga, E., Poulsen, A., Søraa, R.A., Custers, B.H.M. (2021) A little bird told me your gender: Gender inferences in social media, Information Processing and Management 58, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ipm.2021.102541.

13 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2022

See all articles by Eduard Fosch-Villaronga

Eduard Fosch-Villaronga

Leiden University

Adam Poulsen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Roger A. Søraa

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Bart Custers

Leiden University - Center for Law and Digital Technologies

Date Written: January 21, 2021

Abstract

Online and social media platforms employ automated recognition methods to presume user preferences, sensitive attributes such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and opinions. These opaque methods can predict behaviors for marketing purposes and influence behavior for profit, serving attention economics but also reinforcing existing biases such as gender stereotyping. Although two international human rights treaties include explicit obligations relating to harmful and wrongful stereotyping, these stereotypes persist online and offline. By identifying how inferential analytics may reinforce gender stereotyping and affect marginalized communities, opportunities for addressing these concerns and thereby increasing privacy, diversity, and in- clusion online can be explored. This is important because misgendering reinforces gender ste- reotypes, accentuates gender binarism, undermines privacy and autonomy, and may cause feelings of rejection, impacting people’s self-esteem, confidence, and authenticity. In turn, this may increase social stigmatization. This study brings into view concerns of discrimination and exacerbation of existing biases that online platforms continue to replicate and that literature starts to highlight. The implications of misgendering on Twitter are investigated to illustrate the impact of algorithmic bias on inadvertent privacy violations and reinforcement of social preju- dices of gender through a multidisciplinary perspective, including legal, computer science, and critical feminist media-studies viewpoints. An online pilot survey was conducted to better un- derstand how accurate Twitter’s gender inferences of its users’ gender identities are. This served as a basis for exploring the implications of this social media practice.

Keywords: Gender, Twitter, Social media, Inference, Gender classifier, Automated gender recognition system, Privacy, Algorithmic bias, Discrimination, LGBTQAI+, Gender stereotyping, Online Behavioral Advertising

Suggested Citation

Fosch-Villaronga, Eduard and Poulsen, Adam and Søraa, Roger A. and Custers, Bart, A little bird told me your gender: Gender inferences in social media (January 21, 2021). Fosch-Villaronga, E., Poulsen, A., Søraa, R.A., Custers, B.H.M. (2021) A little bird told me your gender: Gender inferences in social media, Information Processing and Management 58, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ipm.2021.102541. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4014569

Eduard Fosch-Villaronga

Leiden University ( email )

Steenschuur 25
Leiden, 2311 ES
Netherlands

Adam Poulsen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Roger A. Søraa

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) ( email )

Høgskoleringen
Trondheim NO-7491, 7491
Norway

Bart Custers (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Center for Law and Digital Technologies ( email )

2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA
Netherlands

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
62
Abstract Views
515
Rank
637,872
PlumX Metrics