discussion / Citizen Science  / 21 June 2022

Using social media for Citizen Science projects - examples

Hi everyone, I am a first-year student on the MS in HCI at RIT, and I am working on a school project about using social media platforms for citizen science projects ( I am particularly interested in those about bird conservation!). If you know of any examples or have any information you think could be relevant/interesting, please share it here or via email at [email protected]. In advance, thanks for your help!

These are fairly low-hanging fruit options if you will (that I'm sure you know about already) but Xeno-Canto & Macaulay Library are online archives for bird images/sounds (Macaulay is for other animals as well). Plus eBird/Merlin, iNaturalist, etc.

You could also check out Key Conservation, run by @mcromp which is working in this space.

You might also check out the Conservation Tech Directory (we have a citizen science filter) to find some examples (e.g., BirdNet, Silent Cities, Cetalingua, Instant Wild). You could also search by 'mobile-app' (another of the filters), as many of those listed have a citizen science component (e.g., Animal Tracker, FinPrint, See Shell).

FlukeBook as a 'tweet-a-whale' thing, so that would be a good example of integration with social media as well.

Hi Natalia!

Great examples of mobile devices and web apps for global citizen science projects have been shared by others. For a bit of context, eBird is the citizen science application used most globally for birds, and it's through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where the Macaulay Library is hosted. At least when I worked at the Cornell Lab, Merlin ID was an application that specifically supports people with learning to identify birds by sight and sound, but not a citizen science app, as no data was submitted. Perhaps that has changed since I returned to Australia, but not to my knowledge. I believe, however, that eBird and broader datasets were used to train the AI that underpins the Merlin ID application. Also, note that there are MANY regional bird apps around the world, and many of them have different focuses and features, so consider the reach of your project. iNaturalist is for any species that can be photographed, but there are a lot of bird observations there as well. 

Beyond projects involving the submission of outdoor observations, you could also explore Zooniverse for projects currently running that relate to or involve birds. This platform engages members of the public to make sense of media (e.g. text, photos, audio, video) online. Much of that tagged data is often then used to train AI for ecological and broader research investigations. Zooniverse has its own social media, but it's not very active. However, several projects hosted on the platform have their own pages and are quite active. 

More broadly still, other projects like Aurorasaurus scrap aurora observations from social media, too. I am not aware of any bird projects that do this, personally. Nevertheless, I share this example, just to highlight a bit of diversity as to how social media is used in citizen science. 

You might also enjoy scanning through the very active social media accounts of the Australian Citizen Science Association (e.g. via Twitter). You could also check for bird projects via SciStarter (and their associated social media), noting projects in Scistarter are largely from the US, as well as Australia given an API between our project finders. 

Just for context, I am a tech design researcher, with a professional background in ecology and environmental education as well. In relation to HCI, I publish at venues like CHI and DIS exploring how to design enticing technologies that support ecologists and the public alike to make sense of the calls of Australia's endangered Eastern bristlebirds in ways that are meaningful and useful (e.g. THIS and THIS). Hope this helps! If you have questions, sing out via Twitter or here!

Best regards,


hello @nata_verry I'd like to throw our hat into the ring - Birda is a cross between strava for birdwatching and pokemon go. We are only live in Europe at the moment but will be launching in the states this year. Can get you a beta link if you like!