The Facebook you is different from the Twitter you, who’s not you on Instagram

Researchers have documented how people portray themselves differently across social networks.
Researchers have documented how people portray themselves differently across social networks. AP file photo

Is that guy who rails on Facebook about how you can’t find a good barista anymore the same dude whose LinkeIn profile boasts of his ability to appreciate the work of others? Could be.

Researchers from Twitter, IBM and a handful of universities collaborated in a study looking at how we portray ourselves depending on which social network we’re in at a moment.

Not surprisingly, we take a more formal approach in networks tied to our careers. We smile more in our portraits on LinkedIn and Twitter than on Instagram and Facebook.

Through it all, the authors of “Wearing Many (Social) Hats: How Different are Your Different Social Network Personae?” wrote, we’re very conscious of how our images will play to different audiences.

But the research also found the young and the old smile the least in our pictures, that grins are more common in middle age.

The researchers concluded that women (also more likely to be shown smiling than men) wear glasses in their profile pictures less often than men, even though the National Eye Institute says they’re more prone to myopia.

“Instagram self-descriptions show more relaxed roles of users such as ‘life’, ‘love,’ ‘lover,’ ‘food,’ ‘music,’ and ‘travel.’ On the other hand, Twitter self-descriptions are somewhat a mix between two groups, heavily comprised of words such as ‘love,’ ‘marketing,’ ‘write, and ‘social.’ …

“We observe that Facebook and Instagram users tend to use more of outdoor images on their profiles. This can be explained by the emphasis on non-professional activities — such as travel experience — in communicating with their peers on these networks. In contrast, text, abstract, and shape images are more dominating among Twitter and profiles. A nonexhaustive manual inspection suggests that this is, in some cases at least, an instance of expressing themselves as recognisable brands.”