Facebook Introduces 'Gross National Happiness Index' App
Facebook's recently introduced "Gross National Happiness Index" application aims to represent the happiness levels of the user base in graph form. It currently only charts happiness for users based in the United States, but it does so by looking out for keywords in status updates, giving words such as "happy", "awesome" and "yay" a positive score, while those such as "tragic", "doubt" and "sad" earn a negative score. According to a survey carried out on some users, Facebook also found that those using more positive words in their updates tended to report being more satisfied with their lives.
Now, some of you may be thinking that analysing the status updates of users is going to throw up some privacy issues. According to Facebook the research doesn't even involve staff reading updates, with computers doing the work of counting keywords after any personally identifiable info has been removed. For convenience the app points out important dates when spikes of positivity occur, such as the 4th of July for example. The extremity of the spikes reduces as more users are sampled (which has something of a normalising effect). What should be intriguing to see, is some comparison between geographical regions if Facebook extends the app to cover other countries (I wonder if it would tally with the Happy Planet Index). You can find the United States Gross National Happiness Index application in the prototype app section on Facebook.