We often share far more about our lives on social media than we realize. The things we “like,” comment on and post reveal a lot about who we are. You might not think sharing that BuzzFeed quiz means much, but to companies like Facebook, everything you do online—no matter how “personal”—turns into something incredibly valuable: user data.
This isn’t an inherently good or bad thing, it’s just the way it is. Everything you show an interest in online is recorded and used to determine which specific advertisements you’ll probably click on. What you share online often reveals your priorities and what you’re passionate about.
Last week Facebook used some of this data to determine what Americans are most thankful for.
“We started by collecting a set of anonymized English status updates that contained ‘grateful’ or ‘thankful,’ as well as the word ‘day’ preceded or followed by a number,” writes Winter Mason, data scientist at Facebook. “These status updates were then aggregated and processed by a text-clustering algorithm so we could identify what people were grateful for.”
Overall, Facebook users are most thankful for “friends.” It’s unclear if that means the I-actually-know-you-in-real-life kind of friends, or the we-met-at-a-friend’s-wedding-once-and-I-followed-you-on-Twitter-the-next-day kind of friends.
The data scientists at Facebook also broke the data down by state to determine which topic is most distinctive to each state and region. According to what we share on Facebook, Alabamians are most thankful for “god’s forgiveness.” In fact, nearly every Southeastern state is most thankful for something that relates to faith.
Tennesseans are thankful for “god’s love.”
Georgians are thankful for “god’s word.”
Residents of Mississippi and Arkansas are thankful for “mercy.”
Both Carolinas are thankful for “salvation.”
That the South consistently gave thanks for faith-related topics shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pew Research’s Religion & Public Life Project found that the South has the fewest number of people who identify as “unaffiliated” with a faith in the nation. Only 8% of Alabamians identity as “unaffiliated,” which is half the national average.
Here’s what the rest of the nation is most thankful for:
Click to enlarge