A New Algorithm Can Identify Signs Of Depression In Your Instagram Feed

Ali Salman
Posted Aug 20, 2016
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Several social media platforms already carry some of your most personal details that allows others to seep in to your mind and personal life. Similarly, one such social media platform, Instagram, has abundant information to be analyzed and toyed with. While Instagram can already be used to guess your age, there are new studies that make use of the data and pan out something new and interesting. Likewise, a new research paper suggests that a person’s mental health can be identified using his or her Instagram feed.

Researchers Built A Model To Find Signs Of Depression Using Your Instagram Feed

The model was built by a team of researchers from Harvard and the University of Vermont. The study requires machine learning tools and the Instagram feed of dozens of individuals. The study would identify signs and then judge whether or not the person is suffering through clinical depression. Researchers would need to consider abundant data in order to move towards any possible conclusions. Some of the details that needs to be considered in an individual’s Instagram feed are the ”color analysis, metadata components and algorithmic face detection”.

Making use of the model made based on aforementioned considerations, researchers were able to accurately determine users suffering from depression. The defined algorithm was held to show positive results 70 percent of the time. From a total of 166 individual Instagram users, 43,950 photos were examined in order to anticipate potential depression.

The team of researchers also suggest that the research notes are not the end result of the study yet. The model could be used for ”early screening and detection of mental illness”. More importantly, the algorithm could one day be used as a base for effective mental health detection tool in a digital society. This suggests that if in the near future, your smartphone is able to access your Instagram feed, it will be able to identify if you’re suffering through depression or any other mental sickness.

The model of study also considers Instagram filters as a tool to determine your mental state. For instance, depressed people tend to use grayer and or darker colors compared to those without depression. Some of Instagram’s filters that fulfill these scenarios are Crema or Inkwell. Healthy individuals tend to use much brighter and warmer tones. This is a minor aspect of the model but definitely suggests a lot about people suffering from depression.

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The research notes does suggest one thing for sure – individual’s mental state is transmitted to social media. Moreover, these transmitted elements in photos can be identified using computational methods. This is it for now, folks. What are your thoughts on the research model? How well do you think the algorithm can identify people’s mental state using a set of computational tools? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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