Canada to study social media to learn about perception of pot

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If you thought the government wasn’t keeping an eye on your social media, think again.

The federal government is about to launch a study exploring the public’s perception of pot and, you guessed it, they’re doing so on social media.

Through an online tender, the government is seeking a company to carry out the study, which will include “web extraction and sentiment analysis of a large representative Canadian sample of publicly available cannabis-related posts on social media platforms” including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram.

It aims to gain a better understanding of how the public feels about cannabis legalization in Canada, with a focus on ““public safety issues, such as driving after using cannabis.”

The government wants to learn more about cannabis “behaviours,” including how frequently, where and by what method people use pot.

And, the study will delve into “attitudes” about marijuana use, in addition to how people buy, sell and share cannabis.

The results of the study will be used to help develop pot policies, such as communications strategies about the risks of driving when stoned.


The call for suppliers states that “although self-report surveys can provide a wealth of information concerning citizens’ attitudes and behaviours related to cannabis legalization, such surveys are susceptible to a number of biases that can impact the quality of the data obtained.”

“In more recent years, researchers in other domains have turned to social media to explore new ways of measuring citizen attitudes towards a variety of topics,” it elaborates. “Social media data is arguably more unconstrained and rich in detail than self-report survey data.
When complemented by self-report survey data, social media data can provide policymakers with a more complete picture of how the public perceives cannabis use and related behaviours in the current pre-legalization context.”
The application period closes Oct. 29.