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Description

Inferring latent attributes of online users has many applications in public health, politics, and marketing. Most existing approaches rely on supervised learning algorithms, which require manual data annotation and therefore are costly to develop and adapt over time. In this paper, we propose a lightly supervised approach based on label regularization to infer the age, ethnicity, and political orientation of Twitter users. Our approach learns from a heterogeneous collection of soft constraints derived from Census demographics, trends in baby names, and Twitter accounts that are emblematic of class labels. To counteract the imprecision of such constraints, we compare several constraint selection algorithms that optimize classification accuracy on a tuning set. We find that using no user-annotated data, our approach is within 2% of a fully supervised baseline for three of four tasks. Using a small set of labeled data for tuning further improves accuracy on all tasks.

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