Study: Twitter research says global #unhappiness is trending

sad faceThe Twitter hive may hold a clue to the general mood of the global mind. According to a new study in the PloS ONE journal, tweets have been steadily trending towards unhappiness over the past three years.

Happiness is important, for some it’s the purpose of society itself. However, this important societal metric is hard to tie down, as many traditional means of measurement have a hard time digging out honesty. Indicators like gross domestic product are far more easy to quantify.

A group of scientists from the University of Vermont say they have figured out how to look over the “collective shoulder of society” and measure happiness in a natural way, by using Twitter to aggregate expressions and track people’s mood patterns in the micro-blogging wild.

Peter Dodds and his team say that happiness is going down. The team writes in the journal, “After a gradual upward trend that ran from January to April, 2009, the overall time series has shown a gradual downward trend, accelerating somewhat over the first half of 2011.”

swear words graph via plos one

The data is collected from over 46 billion words in tweets form 63 million twitter users worldwide. From “pancakes” to “suicide” the researchers then create ratings for words using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. From a scale of 1 to 9, users rated ten thousand of the most common English words on how much happiness a word evokes. The study notes, for example, that “laughter” was scored at 8.5, while “greed” scored a 3.6 and “terrorist” was given a 1.30.

In the short term, Dodds’ team notes that the happiness signals peak over the weekend, and ebb at the beginning of the week. Happiness also flutters throughout the day, from early morning to nighttime as the mind unravels. Happiness fluctuates over the year, jumping up at holidays and dropping during shocks to routine such as Patrick Swayze’s death or the Japan tsunami. However, Dodds insists that, overall there is a drop in happiness.

The happiness sensor does have its flaws as Dodds agrees that this is Twitter-centric. He says,“it does skew toward younger people and people with smartphones and so on—but Twitter is nearly universal now. Every demographic is represented.”

Via University of Vermont

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Social Media

Grow your Twitter audience overnight with these simple tips and tricks

Using Twitter can be intimidating, but these tips will help you feel less inadequate when you look at your follower count. As long as you use a bit of moderation, you'll soon be one step closer to social media fame.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Social Media

3D Facebook photos jump out of the newsfeed, no glasses needed

You're not seeing things -- that photo in your Facebook newsfeed is 3D. Launching today, 3D Facebook Photos use the depth maps from dual-lens smartphones to add dimension to an image as you move your phone.
Social Media

Instagram is testing a new way for you to look through your feed

Instagram is constantly tweaking its app to help give its users the best experience possible, so how do you like the sound of tapping — instead of swiping — to look through your feed?

Was your Facebook account hacked in the latest breach? Here’s how to find out

Facebook now reports that its latest data breach affected only 30 million users, down from an initial estimate of 50 million accounts. You can also find out if hackers had accessed your account by visiting a dedicated portal.

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Social Media

Like a pocketable personal stylist, Pinterest overhauls shopping tools

Pinterest shopping just got a bit better with a trio of updates now rolling out to Pinterest. The first replaces Buyable Pins with Product Pins for more features, including knowing whether or not a product is in stock.
Smart Home

Facebook’s new Portal device can collect your data to target your ads

Facebook confirmed that its new Portal smart displays, designed to enable Messenger-enabled video calls, technically have the capability to gather data on users via the camera and mic onboard.
Social Media

YouTube is back after crashing for users around the world

It's rare to see YouTube suffer serious issues, but the site went down around the world for a period of time on October 16. It's back now, and we can confirm it's loading normally on desktop and mobile.
Social Media

Twitter has sorted out those weird notifications it was sending

Twitter started churning out weird notifications of seemingly nonsensical letters and numbers to many of its users on Tuesday morning. The bizarre incident even prompted Twitter boss Jack Dorsey to get involved.

Adobe MAX 2018: What it is, why it matters, and what to expect

Each year, Adobe uses its Adobe MAX conference to show off its latest apps, technologies, and tools to help simplify and improve the workflow of creatives the world over. Here's what you should expect from this year's conference.
Home Theater

Facebook might be planning a streaming box for your TV that watches you back

Facebook is reportedly working on a piece of streaming media hardware for your living room with a built-in camera for video calls, something people may not want given the company's recent controversies.