Kelsey Chong BS ’25 Receives Drexel Undergraduate Research Mini-Grant to Uncover Social Media Bias

The College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) congratulates Kelsey Chong, BS economics and data science ‘25, on receiving a Drexel University Undergraduate Research Mini-Grant for Spring 2023 Term.

As part of the mini-grant, Chong will collaborate with Professor Christopher Yang, PhD on a project to detect bias on social media.

Chong, who transferred to Drexel last fall term with prior economic research experience, said that participating in undergraduate research was among her top goals after enrolling at Drexel. “I was really interested to get started working on was research [. . .] so I was thinking ‘how can I use what I have right now in terms of my skillset to integrate it with CCI and something more special for my program?’”

Chong plans on using data from Twitter related to the COVID-19 virus. “People like talking about COVID-19 so a lot of the tweets that we are getting are either positive or negative. During COVID, a lot of people were biased towards a certain racial group or demographic in terms of age group, so the [tweets] that we are examining are mostly [by] seniors.”

Social media platforms often include parental controls to protect minors from inappropriate content; however, it is more difficult for these platforms to detect posts exhibiting bias against specific demographics, as no algorithm yet exists to censor such information. As such, Chong will work on the model for the duration of the spring 2023 term (10 weeks) to detect and tackle bias on social media platforms, and then will present her findings at a virtual showcase. After using and testing the data with the model she built, Chong will decipher the model’s effectiveness.

Overall, Chong is excited about working in Yang’s lab where she’ll integrate her knowledge of social media, economics, marketing and communications with the field of computer science to produce an accessible, successful tool.

“I’m hoping to get some results and from there make it user friendly because I have the background knowledge in computing, but I want it to be simple enough for my Econ friends to use too,” Chong said.

Undergraduate Research Mini-Grants are internal grants available for Drexel faculty and undergraduate student collaborators to support their work together. The goal of these grants is to provide further support for faculty and student collaboration in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative work at the university while also offering undergraduate students the opportunity to build skills in crafting effective application materials for funding opportunities. Learn more on the Pennoni Honors College website.

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