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New York women are the least trustworthy on social media, though the girls from Sex and the City may be a special category.

A study of deceitful behaviour on the internet made the surprising finding that women lie almost twice as much as men in social media posts.

The reason women lie is less surprising, if you believe in gender stereotypes: women tell porkies to make other people look good. Men do it to make themselves look good.

The Works Sydney advertising agency working with Dr Suresh Sood, a brand data scientist at the UTS Business School, sought to go deeper than the widely known truth: that without the sweaty palms and facial tics to give them away, everyone lies on the internet, whether about their age, their marital status, their resume or just the all-out envy-making marvellousness of their lives.

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Men lie the most on Facebook, mainly to make themselves look better.The researchers analysed hundreds of thousands of public posts on Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and Instagram. They used a “deceit algorithm” which scores posts for truthfulness based on tell-tale words and emoticons.
AdvertisementFor example, people are less likely to lie if they use pronouns like “I”, “me” or “we” because “we subconsciously distance ourselves from what we know to be a lie.” On the other hand an emoticon with a winking face or dark glasses might be a mark against credibility.

They then compared the results according to gender, location and nationality. They found that 64 per cent of lies come from women compared with 36 per cent for men. Sydney men are the most deceitful on Facebook while Australian women punch above their weight in posting deceitful reviews on TripAdvisor, “in the quest to maybe get free upgrades or gifts”.
A give-away? The winking face emoticon

A give-away? The winking face emoticon

Women lie the most on Twitter, followed by Facebook and Instagram, while men lie most on Facebook.
By city, in Australia the biggest deceivers on Twitter are

1. Brisbane

2. Adelaide

3. Sydney

4. Perth

5. Melbourne

On social media globally, the least truthful are 

1. New York women

2. Perth women

3. Manchester women

4. Cardiff women

5. Edinburgh Women

6. Brisbane men

6. Adelaide women

6. Los Angeles women

9. Melbourne women

10. Los Angeles men

The research drew a distinction between white lies or “embellishment”, and “true” lies, meaning straight out deceit.

It concluded people tell white lies to gain the approval of their social network, to manage their personal brand, to make a good story an amazing story, and to have their ego stroked publicly. They told out and out lies to get free stuff or privileges from brands, to gain social power, to elevate their importance and to protect themselves. But some people were deceiving themselves, too and were unaware that they were lying, the researchers said.

Dr Sood said the deceit was part of “natural human behaviour”. He said people often put themselves into a “hero” narrative. This demanded that they battled the odds and overcame adversity, even if they were just going to the shops. For example, they might exaggerate their difficulties in opening the packaging of a particular brand, because “they have to make a hero story even bigger than it really was”.

The Works agency said the research was meant to help marketers get over their fear of social media. They said the deceit algorithm was not foolproof in identifying untruth, but claimed it performed “much better” than the average human who can only spot 54 per cent of deceitful content.

A 2009 promotional poll by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment of 2000 Britons found men told twice as many lies as women (six a day compared with three). The most common lie told by both sexes was “Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine”.

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Henry Sapiecha