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By the Numbers: Top 10 Tweeters

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Ever wonder who has the most followers on Twitter? Here are the top 10, by the numbers. Please note: these are real people only! For instance, President Obama would easily make this list, but we know for a fact that he isn't the one tweeting on his account at this time. Also note: number of of followers DOES NOT translate to influence on followers. For example, even though our friend Alyssa Milano didn't make this list, her followers are much more likely to click her links, retweet her tweetage, and participate in her community than most of the people on this list. In fact, there's a terrific site called Klout that ranks a tweeter's influence. Go check it out! Meantime, by the numbers, here are your top 10, as of yesterday morning:

10. Katy Perry -3,491,410

Raised a Christian, Katy Perry is a singer/songwriter who started out in the world of gospel. Her later records have been secular and often controversial. She is known for her original fashion sense, integrating bright colors with vintage style.

9. John C. Mayer - 3,602,876

John C. Mayer is an accomplished musician with experience in pop music, guitar, acoustic sound, and jazz and blues. His dating history and social life have both been well covered by the media.

8. Taylor Swift - 3,970,319

A young country music star, Taylor Swift is the youngest person ever to win the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year and Entertainer of the Year awards. She has recently branched out into acting.

7. Oprah Winfrey - 4,060,639

After having grown up in poverty, Oprah Winfrey has had an incredibly popular daytime talk show since 1986. She has been a major influence on our culture today with such things as Oprah's Book Club, philanthropy, and political activism.

6. Kim Kardashian - 4,514,040

Seemingly famous for being famous, Kim Kardashian stars with some of her family members in the reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." She has also had several acting roles in addition to performing on Dancing With the Stars, and has been known to be in the middle of controversy.

5. Justin Bieber - 4,681,996


Famous for his music, boyish good looks, and forward-swept hair, Justin Bieber is a teenage heartthrob. He's a Canadian singer who got his start by uploading his music videos to his YouTube channel.

4. Ellen DeGeneres - 5,072,270

A famously gay daytime talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres started out as a stand up comedienne and actress in her own show called, "Ellen." Kids will also know her as the voice of Dory in the movie "Finding Nemo."

3. Ashton Kutcher - 5,569,167

Married to Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher got his start in the television show "That 70s Show" and "Dude, Where's My Car?" While he still appears in movies such as "Valentine's Day," he's now better known for being producer and creator of projects such as "Beauty and the Geek" and "Punk'd."

2. Britney Spears - 5,690,685

Performing since she was a child, Britney Spears became incredibly famous for her early musical hits such as "Oops!... I Did It Again." She soon added acting to her resume, but her unpredictable behavior landed her in the hospital multiple times. Her popularity continues to this day, however, and she is ranked as the third msot powerful female musician of the year by Forbes magazine.

1. Lady Gaga - 5,714,890

Lady Gaga is a recording artist well known for her single "Poker Face." Her outrageous outfits and style are influenced by glam rock musicians like David Bowie.

Speaking of Twitter, please take a second to follow @mental_floss, if you're not already! And for some very funny, illustrated tweets, please check out my start-up, the Twitter Hall of Fame, twaggies.com.

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5 Quick Facts About the Hashtag
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The use of the hashtag as a Twitter tool to denote a specific topic in order for the masses to follow along turns 10 years old today, having first been suggested (in a Tweet, naturally) by Silicon Valley regular and early adopter Chris Messina back in 2007. Here’s a little history on its evolution from the humble numerical sign to the social media giant it is today.

1. IT COMES FROM THE LATIN TERM FOR “POUND WEIGHT.”

There’s no definitive origin story for the hash (or pound) symbol, but one belief is that when 14th-century Latin began to abbreviate the term for pound weight—libra pondo—to “lb,” a horizontal slash was added to denote the letters were connected. (The bar was called a tittle.) As people began to write more quickly, the letters and the tittle became amalgamated, eventually morphing into the symbol we see today.

2. IT SHOULD ACTUALLY BE CALLED AN OCTOTHORPETAG.

The symbol portion of the hashtag eventually made its way to dial-button telephones, the result of AT&T looking forward to phones interacting with computers. In order to complete a square keypad with 10 digits (including 0), they added the numerical sign and an asterisk. AT&T employee Don MacPherson thought the sign needed a more official name, so he chose Octothorpe—“octo” because it has eight points, and “thorpe” because he was a fan of football hero Jim Thorpe.

3. TWITTER WASN’T BIG ON THE IDEA AT FIRST.

When web marketer Messina had the notion to add hashtags to keep track of conversations, he stopped by Twitter’s offices to make an informal pitch. He came at a bad time: Co-founder Biz Stone was trying to get the software back online after a crash and dismissed the idea with a “Sure, we’ll get right on that” burn. Undeterred, Messina started using them and the habit caught on.

4. IT’S IN THE OXFORD DICTIONARY.

By 2014, respect for the hashtag had grown to the point where the venerable Oxford English Dictionary gave the word its stamp of approval. Their entry: "hashtag n. (on social media web sites and applications) a word or phrase preceded by a hash and used to identify messages relating to a specific topic; (also) the hash symbol itself, when used in this way."

5. THERE ARE SOME HASHTAG ALL-TIMERS.

Hashtags can highlight interest in everything from political movements to breaking news stories, but the frequency of their use is often tied into popular culture. The most popular TV-related tag has been #TheWalkingDead; #StarWars sees a lot of action; and #NFL dominates sports-related Tweets.  

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How You Instagram Can Reveal Whether or Not You’re Depressed, Study Says
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How you Instagram might reveal more about you than just what you did last weekend. One study found that certain Instagram photos can predict the markers of depression, as New York Magazine's Select All reports. And it's not the first study to link social media use and mental illness.

The study, in EPJ Data Science, looked at almost 44,000 posts from 166 people (71 of them depressed) using color analysis, metadata, and face detection software. (While less than 200 people isn’t a big enough number to really cement these findings, they at least analyzed a whole lot of brunch pics.) They found machine learning could successfully distinguish between the behavior of people diagnosed with depression and those with a clean bill of mental health by looking at the Instagram filter type of photos, the setting, whether or not there were people, color, brightness, and how many “likes” and comments it got. They also looked at how often people used the app and how often they posted.

The researchers’ Instagram model worked the majority of the time to correctly identify depression, even in posts made before the researchers diagnosed the person’s mental health status. Compare that to general practitioners' rates for correctly diagnosing depressed patients, which studies have found hover around 42 percent.

Depressed people tended to post darker photos, often using Instagram’s black-and-white Inkwell filter. They received more comments, but fewer likes on their posts. They tended to post photos of faces, but typically fewer faces than non-depressed users (social isolation is often linked to depression). By contrast, healthy people loved Valencia, which lightens images, and tended to get more likes.

Loving a black-and-white photo doesn't necessarily mean you're depressed. Maybe you’re just trying out your best Ansel Adams impression. But given the outsized role social media plays in modern life, it might be able to provide doctors with insights into patients' inner thoughts and feelings that they might not otherwise be privy to.

Other studies, too, have found that technology use can provide a window into people's souls, mental health and all. Research has found that unhappy people use their smartphones to cope with negative feelings, linking increased phone usage to anxiety and depression. A 2015 study found that smartphones could predict depression by tracking how often and where people moved.

In some cases, though, social media seems to play an active role in making people unhappy, rather than simply revealing their existing unhappiness. A 2017 study of 5000 people found that the more time people spent using Facebook, the worse their sense of well-being. (And that's even before you start talking about reading the news.) Other surveys have found that for teenagers, Instagram and Snapchat usage are associated with low self-esteem, bullying, and more.

But even if obsessively Instagram is making you unhappy in the first place, how you use social media could be an important factor for doctors to consider when evaluating mental health. It's hard to open up to people about depressive thoughts, especially if it's a medical professional you only see once a year. You might tell your doctor you feel fine, but be more honest about your inner darkness on Instagram—whether you realize it or not. So although you probably don’t want to hand over your social media history to your medical providers on a regular basis, it could provide a useful way to screen patients who aren't able to fully convey their mental health issues.

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