Organizing online health content: developing hashtag collections for healthier internet-based people and communities


Twitter use has increased among patients with cancer, advocates, and oncology professionals. Hashtags, a form of metadata, can be used to share content, organize health information, and create virtual communities of interest. Cancer-specific hashtags modeled on a breast cancer community, #bcsm, led to the development of a structured set of hashtags called the cancer tag ontology. In this article, we review how these hashtags have worked with the aim of describing our experience from 2011 to 2017. We discuss useful guidelines for the development and maintenance of health-oriented communities on Twitter, including possible challenges to community sustainability and opportunities for future improvement and research.

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