Inferring social media users' demographics from profile pictures: A Face++ analysis on twitter users

Soon Gyo Jung, Jisun An, Haewoon Kwak, Joni Salminen, Bernard J. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In this research, we evaluate the applicability of using facial recognition of social media account profile pictures to infer the demographic attributes of gender, race, and age of the account owners leveraging a commercial and well-known image service, specifically Face++. Our goal is to determine the feasibility of this approach for actual system implementation. Using a dataset of approximately 10,000 Twitter profile pictures, we use Face++ to classify this set of images for gender, race, and age. We determine that about 30% of these profile pictures contain identifiable images of people using the current state-of-the-art automated means. We then employ human evaluations to manually tag both the set of images that were determined to contain faces and the set that was determined not to contain faces, comparing the results to Face++. Of the thirty percent that Face++ identified as containing a face, about 80% are more likely than not the account holder based on our manual classification, with a variety of issues in the remaining 20%. Of the images that Face++ was unable to detect a face, we isolate a variety of likely issues preventing this detection, when a face actually appeared in the image. Overall, we find the applicability of automatic facial recognition to infer demographics for system development to be problematic, despite the reported high accuracy achieved for image test collections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Electronic Business (ICEB)
StatePublished - 2017
Event17th International Conference on Electronic Business: Smart Cities, ICEB 2017 - Al Barsha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: Dec 4 2017Dec 8 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Computer Science


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