New Twitter Algorithm Could Out Guys Pretending to Be Lesbians

Anonymous tweeters may have just become a little less anonymous. Researchers have put together an algorithm that can predict the gender of a tweeter based solely on the 140 characters they choose to tweet. Of course, determining the gender of an Internet personality has its monetary benefits for Twitter. "Marketing is one of the major motivators here, adding that he had heard talk that Twitter was internally working on similar demographically identifying algorithms internally," linguist Delip Rao told Fast Company's David Zax. But it could also help identify phonies misrepresenting themselves. Like, say, older men pretending to be lesbian bloggers. Remember when the Gay Girl in Damascus revealed himself as a middle-aged man from Georgia?

The crux of the research relies on the idea that women use language differently. "The mere fact of a tweet containing an exclamation mark or a smiley face meant that odds were a woman was tweeting, for instance," reports Zax. Other research corroborates these findings, finding that women tend to use emoticons, abbreviations, repeated letters and expressions of affection. Linguists can even detect the tweeters' true identities by how they use the word "my." If you're trying to determine the gender of your favorite Twitterati, the following charts show some markers of woman and man-like Twitter behaviors.

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