Your Instagram feed says a lot about you: where you like to travel, what you find inspirational, the foods you find beautiful...But now, a new study finds that your Instagram game might also signal depression. (Related: The Best Social Media App For Your Happiness)
Researchers from Harvard Universty and the University of Vermont wanted to see if social media posts—specifically Instagrams—could be used to identify certain markers of depression. It turns out, they can.
Using machine learning algorithms to analyze photographic details like brightness and color, the researchers found that filters were pretty accurate predictors of whether or not the 166 study participants suffered from depression. The bluer, greyer, and darker the image or filter used, the more likely the user was to be depressed.
The craziest thing of all? The photo predictions were actually more accurate than human assessments of whether an image looked "happy" or "sad" and even more accurate than in-person mental health assessments performed by general practitioners.
The findings could have some pretty big impacts on the way we screen for mental health issues, not to mention the way we see certain posts popping up on our feed. If your bestie is suddenly switching from Rise to Moon, it might be time to check in.