A smartphone showing the first twitter message of Pope Benedict XVI is held in front of a computer showing the logo of Twitter on December 12, 2012 in Rome. Photo: AFP / Gabriel Bouys
Twitter users, beware! Your tweets can reveal your life history!
Researchers have developed a new technique that studies your tweets to identify the most significant events you have experienced and assembles them into an accurate life history.
The algorithm developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Cornell University in Ithaca can sort out news of important events from entirely trivial details from Twitter streams.
Researchers Jiwei Li and Claire Cardie can use the algorithm to generate an accurate chronology of a person's life-changing events, without knowing anything about them.
Li and Cardie test their idea by mining the streams of 20 ordinary twitter users and 20 celebrities over a 21 month period from 2011 to 2013.
They then asked the ordinary users to create their own life history by manually identifying their most important tweets, according to 'MIT Technology Review'.
For the celebrities, Li and Cardie used Wikipedia biographies and other sources of information to create 'gold standard' life histories manually.
When they compared these gold standard life-histories against the ones generated by their algorithm, their method had accurately picked out many important life events that are also identified in the gold standards.
However, the technique only works with users who tweet regularly and with enough followers to allow the algorithm to spot the unique pattern of responses that identifies important tweets.
Still, that is a significant number of people and Lie and Cardie said their technique can be broadly applied.
"It can be extended to any individual, (eg friend, competitor or movie star), if only he or she has a twitter account," they said.