While it’s not Twitter as an entity that can tell and instead it’s an algorithm that Twitter owns which knows when you drink, the point is – it can guess how drunk you are and where you have been drinking. Typing is hard, especially when you’ve had a few (too many), and this is just one of the several variables that the algorithm in question uses to tell if you have been drinking.
The algorithm in question has been developed by researchers from the University of Rochester and showcased the way it can recognize tweets that are related to alcohol, sent by inebriated individuals as well as those who are drinking while tweeting. Thanks to the ability of the machine to tell where the person who tweets lives “with great accuracy”, according to MIT Technology Review reports, it will also be able to tell whether this person is drinking at home or not.
The machine-learning algorithm did not achieve its capabilities so easily. Researchers from University of Rochester led by study author Nabil Hossain have spent nearly 7 months collecting reference data, between January and July 2014, from the area of New York City and Monroe County. A total of 11,000 geolocated Tweets were fed to the machine-learning algorithm, allowing it to learn how to find tweets that suggest the writer behind them has been drinking.
The second part of the algorithm – and more specifically, the one that can tell whether you’re drinking from home or somewhere else – does not imply any kind of GPS tracking or other invasive manner of detecting your location. Instead, it uses keywords that could relate to one’s home such as ‘sofa’ and ‘bath’ that can lead it to the conclusion that you are or are not tweeting from home. By taking said tweets through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing service, they were able to analyze the tweets in more detail.
In addition, the algorithm that is in charge of detecting where you live use various methods of pinpointing where you live. By taking into account things such as where you send the last tweet of the day from, where you send most tweets from or where you tweet from between certain periods of time (when it is considered you are most likely to be at home) are all factors that account towards figuring out where you live.
But why do these scientists want to know when you’re drunk? Well, for first, a small scale experiment with the algorithm detected that high-activity cities host a higher rate of drinking. Secondly, it could help perform multiple social studies, as well as statistic information regarding drinking habits in various locations on the globe.
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