Ageism in social media is a double-edged sword. With Twitter specifically, ageism isn’t apparent (at least to me) in the Twitter stream. Anyone with a certain degree of charisma, positive attitude and consistency can become part of the cool kids club regardless of age. However, when it comes to being considered for a social media job, ageism becomes an issue. After all, the average age of a Facebook employee is 31 (it used to be 26). Now there is a Twitter analyzer that knows you age based on your tweets.
Not only can this Twitter analyzer detect your age with surprising accuracy, it also knows your gender. All of this is based on what you say in your tweets, and how you type them. It’s based on data collected by researchers at a Dutch university. They studied 3,000 Twitter users, and in doing so they started to notice trends which hint to a person’s gender and age.
So what are the differences according to this Twitter analyzer? As far as gender goes, it’s the obvious stuff. I don’t think it’s hard to determine a person’s gender by looking at their tweets. However, when it comes to age, it seems a bit more tricky.
According to Dong Nguyen, a doctoral student involved in the development of this Twitter analyzer and former Facebook intern, “In terms of age, younger users talk about themselves a lot more and use a lot of emoticons while older people use longer words and sentences. We note that users use more uniform language from about 35 years and older. There are larger differences between users aged 15 and 20 than there are between users aged 45 and 55.” As a result, this analyzer has a margin error of four years. That number decreases for younger users and increases for older users.
Right now, this tool is not available for public use, and it only evaluates tweets in Dutch. The researchers are considering doing the same thing for Facebook, and broadening their studies on this topic.