Gender, No More a Secret on Twitter

When Twitter initially launched its service, users created Twitter handles with nicknames and aliases that did not reveal the gender and it was difficult to identify it. Nevertheless, Twitter still does not have an option to let its users reveal their gender. However, a bunch of researchers has figured out a way to identify, or rather predict the gender of a user on Twitter based on their tweets.

In a paper called Discriminating Gender on Twitter, researchers at the Mitre Corporation have come up with an algorithm and stated that with the help of the algorithm, they could identify a user’s gender by analyzing the tweets.

According to FastCompany, team members – John Burger, John Henderson, George Kim and Guido Zarrella – selected a set of Twitter users whose gender they were sure of. They then narrowed their research to users who linked to major blog services where they revealed their gender. The data obtained showed that about 55% were female and 45% were male. By examining the users’ real name as posted on their Twitter profiles, the computer guessed the gender correctly on around 89 percent of instances. Remarkably, the program was able to guess a user’s gender correctly 65.9 percent of the time by looking at a single tweet.

The team created the algorithm, which suggests that different people use different languages in different ways. They found out that, by looking at certain characters or combinations of characters, the computer could easily guess the gender of the tweeter. For example, if the user used an exclamation mark or a smiley face, it guessed that the user was more likely to be a female.

Twitter Gender Analysis

On other platforms, I have seen users creating fake profiles by updating their gender as female, even if they are male in reality. It’s a human nature that males are more attracted to females, and the majority of male users on the Internet send friend requests or follow female users. Thus, by creating profiles under female gender will bring in more followers or friend requests no matter what.

Perhaps this is why Twitter has not yet introduced an option that lets its users reveal their gender. The other reason could be that there are several organizations and brands on Twitter. Well, one cannot describe the gender of an organization.

Although Google+ does not support brand and organization entities, it recently updated its system by adding an option called Otherin gender. Additionally, if Google Plus users did not want to reveal their gender, they always have an option to disable it or share it with selected people. I think Twitter should consider introducing a similar option, at least to organizations and brands in order to make it easier for other Twitter users to identify whether it’s a brand or a person.

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Joel Fernandes

Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.