A new algorithm can tell when you’re tweeting while drunk, and may help save lives

Twitter Followers Landis
bloomua/123RF
The only thing worse than drunk texting? Drunk tweeting, duh. Because when you’re drunk, the last thing you want is an audience, especially when that audience is the Twitter-verse. But if you’ve drunk tweeted in the past, you can regain a bit of dignity by knowing that you’ve contributed to some great research that now allows scientists to detect just how inebriated you are when using social media — or stated more simply, whether or not your latest Twitter contribution was made in a drunken stupor.

In truly monumental research, Nabil Hossain at the University of Rochester took Twitter and machine learning, and smashed them together to determine drinking habits across specific geographic locations. Hossain and his team rounded up thousands of geotagged posts that appeared on Twitter between July of 2013 and July of 2014 across the state of New York, and then parsed them down to only examine tweets that contained alcohol-related keywords (think “beer keg,” “drunk,” and the like).

This ultimately gave them a database of about 11,000 tweets to work with, which the researchers passed through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing service. Every single one of those thousands of tweets were examined by three human “Turkers,” who answered three questions about the posts:

  1. Does the tweet make any reference to drinking alcoholic beverages?
  2. If so, is the tweet about the tweeter him or herself drinking alcoholic beverages?
  3. If so, is it likely that the tweet was sent at the time and place the tweeter was drinking alcoholic beverages?

The answers derived from these questions gave the team a sense of whether or not the tweets came from folks who were drinking or drunk. Then, going even further with their research, Hossain and his team looked into where the tweeters were when they were imbibing (or at the very least, drunk tweeting). By the end of their efforts, they’d managed to create an algorithm that theoretically can pinpoint whether a user was at home when drunk tweeting with up to 80-percent accuracy.

By combining these two determinations, Hossain says that his research group can now determine where New Yorkers prefer to drink, and by extension, identify their favorite watering holes. “Our results demonstrate that tweets can provide powerful and fine-grained cues of activities going on in cities,” Hossain’s team notes, and tracking this sort of activity could help keep drinkers out of harm’s way. 

So don’t be embarrassed by your drunk tweets (not for this reason at least). After all, they could save your life.

Computing

Turn your iPad into a display for your new Mac Mini with this workaround

The folks at Luna Display have figured out a workaround which lets you get the best of both worlds and use Wi-Fi and an adapter in order to turn your iPad into a display for the 2018 Mac Mini.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Microsoft Surface Pro 6: Everything you need to know

The Surface Pro 6 is officially here, though it's not as big of a redesign as you might have hoped. With a new coat of black paint and an 8th-gen processor, this is a small update. If you've been eyeing a Surface Pro, you may want to wait…
Deals

Here are the best laptop deals for November 2018

Whether you've started a new school year, are shopping for a student, or you just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (November 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Computing

Latest SMS breach could allow hackers access to your online accounts

A new security breach that exposed more than 26 million text messages could be a huge nightmare for users relying on two-factor authentication. Many of the SMS on the database contained security codes and account reset links.
Computing

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mail client goes freemium with the introduction of ads

Microsoft Windows Insiders are finding a nasty surprise inside the Mail app on the latest Windows 10 preview build in the form of banner ads. These ads will appear in the Mail app regardless of the webmail service you use.
Computing

All the best Apple MacBook deals for Black Friday 2018

Shoppers looking for a new Apple laptop could find huge savings on a new MacBook come Black Friday. Retailers are offering discounts as much as $650 on select MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models this holiday season.
Computing

Apple discontinues AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule as it exits Wi-Fi router business

Apple is now officially no longer in the router business. The company had already stopped selling the AirPort Express, and now its retail stores and websites have stopped offering the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Crypto hangover could take blame for Nvidia’s potential GeForce RTX 2060 delay

Nvidia's delay in announcing a ship date for its GeForce RTX 2060 GPU could be due to a burst in the cryptocurrency mining bubble. Executives blamed the crypto hangover for an oversupply of inventory on existing GTX 1060 cards,
Computing

Save $900 on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and more with Lenovo’s Cyber Monday sales

In the latest set of holiday sales, Lenovo is heavily discounting its fifth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon and other popular Windows laptops and 2-in-1s for the holiday shopping season.