For years we’ve been hearing stories of children being diagnosed with brain tumors or liver disorders based on followers viewing their picture on social media and alerting parents to suspicious findings. Now a study, published in PLOS One, finds 21 different medical conditions to be revealed based on the vocabulary people use when posting on their timeline.
Penn State and Stony Brook medical researchers reviewed thousands of Facebook status updates and found certain keywords surface more often with those having specific conditions.
For Diabetes, for examples, key words included: pray, family, blessed, very, thank, thankful, doctor, blood, hospital
For Sexually Transmitted Illnesses, there were many expletives as well as the terms cry, scream, away, guess, wow and babe
For Drug Abuse, there were many expletives as well as well as the terms nobody, everybody, stop, call, text and bored
For High Blood Pressure, terms that commonly surfaced included doctor, blood, hospital, mother, good, peace, rip.
The concept of using a “digital language” to help identify certain risk factors is nothing new when it comes to mental illness but is virgin territory when we discuss endocrinology conditions such as diabetes.
More research obviously needs to be done, however, this study demonstrates that not only can our physical actions tune a medical provider into our pathology but so can our social media behavior.