Facebook keeps tabs on users’ happiness

Facebook continues in its mission to monitor our wellbeing, expanding its Gross National Happiness Index (GNH) to Canada, the UK and Australia.

The idea of the GNI – which has been monitoring the US since October – is that by counting the frequency of certain key postive and negative words in posts over the last couple of years, it’s possible to tell how happy a given population is.

Apparently, people in all four nations are happiest on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day top the list through the year.

“Deaths of celebrities like Heath Ledger (Jan 22, 2008) and Michael Jackson (June 25, 2009) can also be seen in almost all the graphs,” says Facebook.

In general, people seem to be getting more cheerful – possibly because there’s more old people on the site these days, says Facebook, and possibly because of the economic recovery.

Australians had a mass outbreak of contrition on February 13 2008, the say prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to indigenous Australians – apparently four percent of updates contained the word sorry.

And Canadians appear to find Thanksgiving a bit of an anti-climax – they’re happier the day before than on the day itself.

The Brits, on the other hand, are a phlegmatic lot, and aren’t noticeably happier whether it’s a holiday or not.