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People change personas for different social media sites

A study found that majority of users subconsciously adapted themselves to the etiquette of each social networking site.

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 17, 2017 08:05 IST
PTI
Social media accounts
The research showed that women were less likely to wear corrective eyewear, like reading glasses, in their profile picture.(Shutterstock)

People adopt unique personas for different social networking sites such as Facbook or LinkedIn, say American researchers.

“Users tend to portray themselves differently in these different worlds,” said Dongwon Lee, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US. Researchers theorised that these different personas stem from a desire to fit within the distinctive culture or etiquette of each site.

For instance, a photo of someone drinking a colourful drink may be popular on Instagram, but sharing the same image to LinkedIn would be frowned upon. “The users tend to portray themselves differently in these different worlds,” Lee explained.

The study found that users under the age of 25 were less likely to be smiling in their profile picture. (Shutterstock)

Researchers compiled information on over 100,000 social media users by utilising their ‘about.me’ information. Upon analysing the profile pictures and biography information provided by these users, the team found some surprising differences in how different demographics portray themselves.

For example, the research showed that women were less likely to wear corrective eyewear, like reading glasses, in their profile pictures and users under the age of 25 were less likely to be smiling in their profile picture.

“The use of ‘about me’ was the big breakthrough, as it allowed us to go from pairs of social networks, which we had been studying recently, to all the major social network platforms today: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram,” said Nisanth Sastry of Pennsylvania State University.

The researchers do not believe that users are explicitly modifying their profile, but rather subconsciously adapting the behaviour modelled to fit in.

“The data shows that subtly, despite our best efforts, we do still fit stereotypes of gender and age in the way we tailor our personas,” Sastry said.

“In the social media era, without realising it, people are leaving their marks. If we can tap into these digital footprints, then we can learn a lot about their behaviour,” Lee said.

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