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  • Dona

    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    © Universität Bielefeld



Dona is an online platform for secure donation of anonymized messaging data to research. The donation process goes as follows:


  1. The participants request their messaging data from WhatsApp and/or Facebook as downloadable files.
  2. On the Dona webpage, these files are uploaded to be anonymized: only anonymized IDs, timestamps and message lengths are stored. No message content ever leaves the device of the participants!
  3. Participants receive visual feedback on their messaging behavior to get insights into their own data as a reward.

This tool can be combined with psychological questionnaires to study associations of certain messaging behaviors with psychological characteristics. Dona provides an innovative and unobtrusive way to assess a person’s social interactions in the digital space.

Theoretical considerations

Social isolation increases the risk of psychological disorders [1] [2]. To measure social integration, it is common to use questionnaires where people provide details about their social interactions. Such self-assessment, however, is often biased and subject to errors [3]. A popular way of communicating nowadays is through online messaging services, which also enable to download own messaging data. These data can be made available to researchers through donations for a more objective measurement of social interactions compared to traditional questionnaires[4].


[1] L. R. Hansen, S. B. Pedersen, C. Overgaard, C. Torp-Pedersen, and L. R. Ullits, “Associations between the structural and functional aspects of social relations and poor mental health: a cross -sectional register study,” BMC Public Health, vol. 17, no. 1, p. 860, Nov. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4871-x.
[2] D. Umberson and J. K. Montez, “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy,” JHealth Soc Behav, vol. 51, no. Suppl, pp. S54–S66, 2010, doi: 10.1177/0022146510383501.
[3] V. D. Mortel and F. Thea, “Faking it: Social desirability response bias in self -report research,”undefined, 2008, Accessed: Jun. 30, 2022. [Online]. Available:
[4] N. Eagle, A. S. Pentland, and D. Lazer, “Inferring friendship network structure by using mobile
phone data,” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, vol. 106, no. 36, pp. 15274–15278, Sep. 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0900282106.

Responsible Researchers:

Olya Hakobyan & Hanna Drimalla
License: Use only upon request
Acknowledgement: The first instance of the platform was developed by Data4Life in cooperation with HPI. We thank Paul Julius-Hillmann for developing the feedback plots.
Online Demo:

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