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Analyzing Tweets To Identify Psychopaths 266

Posted by timothy
from the except-ones-who-know-of-the-model dept.
nonprofiteer writes "Researchers presenting at Defcon next week have developed a psychopathy prediction model for Twitter. It analyzes linguistic tells to rate users' levels of narcissism, machiavellianism and other similarities to Patrick Bateman. 'The FBI could use this to flag potential wrongdoers, but I think it's much more compelling for psychologists to use to understand large communities of people,' says Chris Sumner of the Online Privacy Foundation. Some of the Twitter clues: Curse words. Angry responses to other people, including swearing and use of the word "hate." Using the word "we." Using periods. Using filler words such as 'blah' and 'I mean' and 'um.' So, um, yeah."
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Analyzing Tweets To Identify Psychopaths

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  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:06AM (#40722565)
    I hear that if you measure their skulls you can also spot murderers. I will call this science phrenology!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This article is absolutely ridiculous and I pray it is shot down my mainstream psychologists because it's not fair at all. I am a law-abiding citizen who works a full-time job and spends much of my downtime educating myself and hanging out with friends. I have hobbies, I have a beautiful family, and I am a very good person. Many of the things in this article have applied to me throughout my life and I am disgusted that they would even begin their psychopath search in this manner.

      Fucking incredible.

      • Having regrets over all of those nasty and violent tweets, are you? Should've thought about what might happen if you babbled about listening to those voices, and where to get that ammo online.

        Time to get back into therapy now, and start taking those meds that you've eschewed all this time.

        Or they'll nail your ass. Is that them knocking at the door? Did you hide everything?

    • by ivoras (455934) <ivoras@NOSPAm.fer.hr> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:33AM (#40722851) Homepage

      Of course, the real insight is Reverse Phrenology! Kicking people in the head to make them better people!

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, the test of something's value shouldn't be whether it strikes you as silly.

      The difference between this and phrenology is that phrenology is based on a fundamentally flawed assumption: that the external shape of the skull is correlated strongly to the size of medium scale anatomical structures of the brain. It's easy enough to debunk phrenology by looking at few skulls and comparing the interior to the exterior. In contrast it's quite plausible that a personality trait would be *correlated* in some way

      • "Well, the test of something's value shouldn't be whether it strikes you as silly."

        Yes, it should. Truly silly things are quite valuable.

  • Using Periods? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Bullshit. Using periods is simply properly using the English language. (And expletives have their proper place as well--although this one is more ironic than angry :) )

    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:18AM (#40722613)

      What are you, some sort of psychopath? Flag him!

      • Notice from your favorite social media staff: I'm sorry, but due to your inappropriate use of periods, you are banned from our social media. We found you are in fact just asocial.
        • Notice to your favorite social media staff: I'm sorry, but due to your inappropriate use of profiling methods, you are banned from my list of social media. In fact, I just found you are an asocial media.
    • by kenh (9056)

      I agree, to me this points out the trivial nature of their 'research' - can I safely assume that a slavish insistence that all the words in your tweets be spelled properly is the hallmark of a feeble mind, and that truly intelligent users have mastered so-called TXT-speak?

    • Using periods is simply properly using the English language.

      Not quite, if you are properly using the English language (and not American) you can only use periods to identify female psychopaths.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      My guess is that in an environment where brevity and casualness is the norm, using fully structured sentences and grammar is something that identifies the twitterer as A.B.Normal. (IE, failing to adhere to the social norms of the environment.) That trait itself doesn't mean anything, but combined with the other ones it can (presumably?) identify someone as being a psycho.
    • by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:36AM (#40723727)
      i think the lack Capitalization and lack of Proper punctuation may be more Useful in Finding people suffering from Various Mental Disorders on the other hand it may merely Indicate a shortcoming In the posters education isn,t it obvious that when some one fails to Use punctuation and Capitalization correctly that they are a Tragedy in Waiting clearly the fbi is Onto Something or at least they Think They Are it cant be simply a case of people Being too lazy to punctuate their sentences or find the fucking shift key many messages on twitter come from mobile devices where it can be pretty damned inconvenient to apply capitals and punctuation marks as compared to a proper keyboard
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:35PM (#40724547) Homepage Journal

        i think the lack Capitalization and lack of Proper punctuation may be more Useful in Finding people suffering from Various Mental Disorders on the other hand it may merely Indicate a shortcoming In the posters education isn,t it obvious that when some one fails to Use punctuation and Capitalization correctly that they are a Tragedy in Waiting clearly the fbi is Onto Something or at least they Think They Are it cant be simply a case of people Being too lazy to punctuate their sentences or find the fucking shift key many messages on twitter come from mobile devices where it can be pretty damned inconvenient to apply capitals and punctuation marks as compared to a proper keyboard

        What you did: it's there, and I see it.

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:12AM (#40722583)
    The ability to predict psychopaths in under 140 characters? What have all these mental health professionals been doing? All these face-to-face interviews, "sessions" and observations. Maybe if they submitted their reports in only 140 characters they would have figured all this out a long time ago. /sarcasm
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by reub2000 (705806) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:27AM (#40722635)

      Probably is bullshit. The twitter responses where compared to a survey. In other words they calibrated their instrument by simply asking people if they're a psychopath. Lets see, one of the most well known trait of psychopaths is their tendency to lie.

    • Did I see a PERIOD there you psychopath stop Off to the happy home with you stop That is if the FBI do not come calling first stop
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. If somebody uses Twitter, he can’t be right in his head in the first place. ^^

      (There are only two types of "people" that use Twitter: 40+ midlife-crisis people who want to be "cool" again, and marketing companies posing as celebrities. No exceptions.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "The ability to predict psychopaths in under 140 characters?"

      ***Psychopath test***
      You think your crap is worth following? Check!
      You follow the crap of strangers you have never seen? Check!

      If one or more of the above are checked, congratulations, you're a Psychopath.

    • Who says this profiling is using only a single tweet? It uses far more than 140 characters.
    • Ah, you must not have used Twitter before. It lets you tweet more than once, what a cool feature!
  • oh dear, I wonder what would happen if they ran the model against loudbot - http://twitter.com/loudbot [twitter.com] -- it'd probably score off the charts

  • Analyzing myself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:17AM (#40722611)

    > Curse words.
    Hardly any, but mostly due to many years on a MUD with strict rules. Abusing "damn" and so on, though.

    > Angry responses to other people
    Hell yeah.

    > including swearing and use of the word "hate."
    Got a bigger vocabulary, but yeah.

    > Using the word "we."
    Check, to a big extent.

    > Using periods.
    You mean, so those with no punctuation are not morons but normal people? Blah. Check.

    > Using filler words such as 'blah'
    See above.

    > and 'I mean'
    Check.

    >and 'um.'
    "hrm", "hmm" and "ghrmblah" (see also two paragraphs above)

    So, you mean, is there any hope for me?

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:30AM (#40722643)

      So, you mean, is there any hope for me?

      Sure there is. First, you'll seek twitter therapy and twitter assimilation resistance resistance. If that succeeds your tweets will be indistinguishable from 99% of the population (and most of your followers will finally be able to understand them).

      If your TT&TARR fails you'll have to go to twitter court (most trials are very short) or simply go to twitter confessions and throw yourself on the mercy of 12 randomly selected twitter addicts. Once you're sentenced to twitter prison (where all you say and read are tweets) you'll be able to start paying your debt to the twitterverse. When the time comes for your parole review they'll analyze your tweets during your sentence to determine if you're ready for early tweetlease or if you need to try harder.

      So yes, there is hope for you ... though not much hope for society at large if we're making DSM-V quality diagnoses based on twitter (unless we're determining that those who use twitter really have too much time on their hands).

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        First, you'll seek twitter therapy and twitter assimilation resistance resistance.

        No sane, or insane-but-ok person reads twitter already. Nullroute the blighters. I meant mailing lists and IRC. Twitter is hardly better than Fecesbook.

        your tweets will be indistinguishable from 99% of the population

        Since 99% of world's population doesn't use twitter, this is already done.

    • So, you mean, is there any hope for me?

      Just don't use Twitter and you'll be fine. That's the biggest thing I got out of it.

    • So, you mean, is there any hope for me?

      Did you have a happy childhood? If so, you'll probably be fine, even if you're a functional psychopath.

      If you grew up in an abusive/broken home, you might want to go in for the PET scan and talk to a neuropsych doc about warning signs of impending trouble, especially if you have a bad life event happen.

      If you've been through training to enhance psychopathic traits in normal people (e.g. military, politics, corporate ladder-climbing) you might also be at a higher risk.

  • by humanrev (2606607) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:28AM (#40722637)

    rate users' levels of narcissism

    If Twitter users are anything like Facebook's, then if you're trying to use narcissism as a rating for psychopathic behavior you're gonna get a LOT of hits.

  • will get flagged as a psychopath. Nice. What a stupid idea.

    • by azalin (67640)

      will get flagged as a psychopath. Nice. What a stupid idea.

      Well it's about time, puberty is officially recognized as a mental illness.

      • will get flagged as a psychopath. Nice. What a stupid idea.

        Well it's about time, puberty is officially recognized as a mental illness.

        LOL. :-)

  • These Search Engine Optimization guys are well experienced in gaming the search engine algorithms. It will be child's play for them to game this twitter psychopath detection algorithms. They will branch off into side business,

    "Are you afraid your tweets will trigger the FBI psychopath detection hot buttons? Are you afraid the Government jack booted thugs are going to knock down your door? Don't despair! Don't log off!! Tweet to your heart's content! Just subscribe to our UTR [*] service for just $9.99 a month and we will unobtrusively intervene and moderate your tweets! Your message will get through! FBI would not know. Subscribe now.

    [*] UTR is the registered trademark of Under The Radar technologies, all rights reserved."

    Now we won't be back to the square one. We would be back to the square negative 10. FBI is overloaded with the false positives. The real psychopaths are laughing at you too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:29AM (#40722829)

    I fucking hate stupidity like this being passed off as "sciency". I mean, next up they'll claim to use palm scanners to determine my future actions. Blah! We need to vote these types of articles down. It's worthless shit!

    I guess the only thing between me and a psychopath is that I don't use The Twitter.

    Idiots!

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:32AM (#40722845) Homepage

    Some of the Twitter clues: Curse words. Angry responses to other people, including swearing and use of the word "hate." Using the word "we." Using periods. Using filler words such as 'blah' and 'I mean' and 'um.

    Speaking English either formally or informally and either without emotion or with emotion. I have also heard that almost all of them breathed regularly and wore clothing. Those are relevant clues that might help recognize the next one early.

    On the other hand, that they all owned assault weapons is purely a coincidence.

    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      "On the other hand, that they [psychopaths] all owned assault weapons is purely a coincidence."

      So I guess all the slashers, stranglers, people who drop someone off a building, hit them with a car, set little kids on fire, or cops that kill somebody they've arrested while the victim is in handcuffs and face-down, or leaders that convince an entire nation to commit mass genocide (after first disarming the populace) are all shining beacons of sanity.

      Gramps, who owns and carries an AR-15 sport carbine on his large ranch in the S.W. needs to be institutionalized. Same for Yukon Bob living in the Alaskan w

  • by loufoque (1400831) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:55AM (#40722945)

    So basically, they're implying that if you're narcissist or machiavellianist, which are both valid of traits of human nature, you should be arrested?
    What a nice display of tolerance.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      No, they're not implying anything of the sort. You just made up the part about getting arrested to feed your own victim complex.

  • All right. So the business about scanning tweets is kind of silly. But identifying dangerous psychopaths has value, if we can prevent things like mass shootings. What if some other technique worked? Would you put the names in a database? Lock people up just to be sure? If the FBI had this magic information, what would they do with it?
  • Now, I'm not going to read the article, because the poster decided to make a reference to a fictional character. Patrick Batman isn't a real person, and has no bearing on any kind of studies of any relevance to any subject that might be of any use to actual criminal studies except in some oblique, culturally related way. Could watching too many movies make you do stupid things, even kill people? Yeah, I'm 88% certain of it. Does knowing that make me a criminal psychologist? No, no it doesn't.

    Thanks a lot, t

  • Good thing I don't use Twitter then.
    I think.
    Um, yeah.

  • DrDave Dave Holden
    @leon You are in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down...

  • Oh great, after years of grammar in er, grammar school, now I'll have to unlearn ending sentences with a period
  • Instead of the gun/anti-gun debate I think it would be more appropriate to talk about if we want to live in a surveillance state where our every action and word is scoured to see if we are a threat. I would prefer to have the police and courts concentrate on catching, prosecuting, and detaining people that have already committed a crime. The reason these types of crimes receive attention is because of how random and pointless they seem. But many more lives could be saved more cheaply if we would concentrat

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:13AM (#40723295)
    Big brother is watching you....140 characters at a time.
  • Well, um, I am. I mean, I fucking swear all the god damned time on Twitter. So, yeah, I also use periods (and other punctuation). I'll respond angrily to people... I hate this shit...

  • "The Psychopath Test" author Jon Ronson pretty much makes the case that there isn't any test.

  • by darkain (749283) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:59PM (#40724685) Homepage

    So, um, yeah. Apparently we, erm, I mean I am a psychopath because of a few fucking words I like to say? blah. I hate articles like this.

  • I don't use Twitter, but I'd be surprised if my slashdot post history wouldn't score me a cool 10 out of 10 the psycho chart :(

    Not saying I'm not a psycho, either. Mainly just shrugging. The way I see it, people who go along, don't mind, and sleep tight are quite the monsters, too. As Erich Fried said, "don't doubt those who say the are scared, but be scared of those who say they have no doubts". Gimme the confused, the psychos, the angry, the frustrated -- at least they're salvageable. Because, to be sick

  • by eggstasy (458692) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @02:33PM (#40725123) Journal

    And they hate everything all the time, as a result of passive-aggressiveness during the depressive phases, or mere aggressiveness and grandiosity on the manic ones, or simply a tendency to hyperbolize their description of the world based on their own extreme feelings and disinhibition. They will also, of course, get into angry arguments.

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