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Every day, people use the internet to seek and share health information. This opens up exciting new ways for scientists to study the health of a population, an approach known as digital epidemiology.

But, in most cases, we do not know much about the individuals who post this information. We don’t know if the data include people from poor households, or how the data break down according to race, gender or age group. We also don’t know if they include those who are most vulnerable to the disease of interest in a particular study.

Before we can start addressing disparities in digital data, we need to show that these disparities exist. Our study of more than one million Yelp reviews suggests that poorer populations are being left out of digital data used for disease surveillance.

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