140-Character Clues: Penn Study Finds Tweets Reveal Income and Status

What do your tweets say about you? It turns out, according to a new study by a University of Pennsylvania researcher, a lot more than you may think.

Tweets reveal income and social status of Twitter users, the study shows. Penn researcher Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro, who conducted the study along with scholars from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and University College London, determined the correlation by mining through more than 5,000 Twitter users and more than 10 million tweets, according to Penn Current.

"For this study, we wanted to look at something more personal and kind of unexpected to show up based on what people post," Preotiuc-Pietro told NBC10. "We were thinking another goal of our study is for people to understand just how much they say about themselves on Twitter. And they're not aware that companies, for example, could use this information."

The content of the tweets, according to the study, hints at more than just what a user is thinking or feeling: Lower-income users were found to use profanity more, while higher-income tweeters were more likely to talk politics or corporate America in their tweets. Researchers also found that people who tweet about Christianity often earn less than their counterparts who don't tweet about religion, according to Penn.

Preotiuc-Pietro said one surprising finding of the study, to him, was that while higher-income people in general tend to tweet more objectively, they also were more likely than lower-income people to express fear and anger in their tweets. He said lower-income people were found to use Twitter more to socialize, while higher-income people tended to use it more to discuss politics and share news.

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He said if people don't want their tweets to reveal so much information about them, they can take one simple step: "More objective messages rather than subjective messages," the researcher said. "News as opposed to updates on what they do day by day."

The study is the first of its kind. Earlier this year, a different group of Penn researchers found that a person's tweets can predict heart disease.

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