Your tweets can reveal how much money you earn

You are what you tweet.
You are what you tweet.
Image: Reuters/Siegfried Modola
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Do you tweet about the news, or do you use Twitter to talk to your friends? The answer can provide clues to how much money you earn.

The words you tweet can reveal a lot about you. Twitter data has previously been used to determine which countries were more likely to suffer from heart disease and used as a tool to measure depression. Now, computer scientist have linked people’s tweets to their income.

A group of researchers, led by Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro at the University of Pennsylvania, first looked at Twitter users’ self-described occupations. They used a British job code system to sort occupation into nine classes and determined an average income for each class. After finding a representative sample for each class, researchers analyzed 5,191 Twitter users and more than 10 million tweets. They looked for words that each class used distinctively.

The overall picture showed that lower-income users were more likely to swear and use Twitter to talk to their friends. Higher-income users used Twitter more professionally, particularly as a tool to disseminate news. Those on a higher income spoke more frequently about politics, and were more likely to express fear and anger on Twitter.

Some of the findings were unsurprising—the words a person uses can be tied to gender, and the study showed men earned more money then women. Older users as well as those with more education also had higher income.

But, there were some interesting revelations in the study published in the journal Plos One. Perceived optimists had a lower mean income, while higher-income users were less anxious and religiously unaffiliated.

Researchers weren’t able to find any significant relationships between political orientation and income, nor where they able to find any strong correlation between life satisfaction and income. Researchers note in the study that the findings were a “necessary first step” and suggest there are several future applications of the research, which range from health to marketing.