Can Faceboook Really Predict When You’ll Break Up?

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Photo: David McCandless/TED

The holiday season is upon us, and with the familial stress and mass consumerism and overeating comes its attendant romantic fallout. But can a chart currently making its way around the Internet actually predict when your relationship is likely to end? British journalist and graphic designer David McCandless mapped out the data from 10,000 Facebook status updates to figure out what days and times of year breakups were most common. The results, first presented at a TED Talk, seemed to indicate a spring cleaning just before spring break. The chart also spiked just before Valentine's Day and Christmas, and on Mondays (presumably all of them), with summer and fall being the safest time from sudden singledom. But before the breakup-phobic use this info as a handy guide for when to avoid their loved ones, DigitalSociety blogger Paul Crowe would like to point out some serious flaws.

For one, McCandless only looked at 10,000 updates, not 10,000 users. What's more, he scanned purely for the words "breakup" and "broken up," which hardly covers all the creative synonyms the Facebooking public have for kicking their romantic baggage to the curb. And in the case of the spike around Valentine's Day, that could easily have been caused by people posting rumors about Chris Brown and Rihanna, which Google Trends show culminated around February 14.

As Intel friend Edith Zimmerman points out, the graph also skews toward the type of people who record the ups-and-downs of their relationships on Facebook, in which case they deserved it. So take heart, committed types. With all that data debunked, you can continue to wake each day riddled with anxiety that something you just said or did might be a deal-breaker, regardless of day or season.

Another look at Facebook Break-up data [DigitalSociety]
Here Comes Breakup Season [Hairpin]