Twitter can be useful for a lot of things, from connecting with new people to following a breaking story to staying up-to-date on your favorite authors, actors, and musicians. But it turns out the platform can also be useful for something more unexpected: Twitter can predict people's incomes. That's right — a new study says that your tweets can actually reveal a lot about how much money you make.
Given how many users it has, it's no surprise that Twitter is a treasure trove of social data. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently decided to put that to good use, analyzing 5,191 users and more than 10 million tweets in the U.K. to predict the individuals' socioeconomic factors.
Per The Daily Dot, the U.K uses a worker classification system that sorts people into nine different categories based on skill requirements. Researchers examined a sample from each classification, employing natural language processing to figure out what words people from each "class" use on a regular basis. They found that there are certain personality traits, emotions, and language association with people of different incomes.
Some of the most interesting findings included that people who have higher incomes tweet with more anger and fear, even while posting objective content. They also tend to tweet more about politics and NGOs, using Twitter as a way to disseminate news or for professional means rather than personal reasons. Higher earners were also generally perceived as less anxious, and usually religiously unaffiliated.
As for lower income users, they tended to use
more curse words. Emotions like sadness, surprise, and disgust were also more
frequently associated with them than with higher income users. They also mostly used Twitter for more
personal means, like to enhance communication with others, not for professional
Interestingly, there was no significant difference in the amount of joy expressed by high or low-income earners. But most users who were perceived as optimists had a lower income on average.
Pretty fascinating stuff, no? We knew Twitter could tell us
a lot about a person's likes and dislikes, but who knew it also could reveal so
much about our salaries? This study was the first of its kind to
link tweets with income, but Twitter has been used to expose all kinds of
societal trends, so we can likely expect a lot more of this kind of information
in the future. In the meantime, watch what you tweet — you never know what you
might be revealing to the rest of the world!