Bangkok people’s smiles are number one on Instagram


Thai smiles rule on social media as global photo-sharing website Instagram said last week that a mood analysis survey of 150,000 ‘selfie’ photos from five cities around the world showed that people in Bangkok smiled more and appeared happier than their counterparts in other locations.

Although a few international media organizations have portrayed Thailand as a country filled with gloomy feelings because of its modest economic growth the past two years, Thai people, at least those taking selfies in the capital of Bangkok, have been presenting a very different picture to the world at large.

Computer scientists based at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) have been conducting computer analysis on Instagram photos over the past three years. They said there are over 79 million photographs on the sharing website with the hashtag ‘selfie.’ “I’m still surprised the number is so low,” says Lev Manovich, a computer science professor at CUNY and team member.

Manovich, along with data visualization experts and a team of researchers, historians and designers, spent months gathering Instagram data from five major cities across the world for Selfiecity, a new research project that tries to make sense of the media in social media. The project’s results can be viewed at the website.

Based on 640 photos from 150,000 selfies on Instagram, it found out that selfie photos of people in Bangkok had the highest smile rank with 0.68 average smile scores, followed by people of Sao Paolo in Brazil, who had an average smile score of 0.64. The research also found that Bangkok is the youngest selfie city with an average age of 21 years.

“Our mood analysis revealed that you can find lots of smiling faces in Bangkok,” the Selfiecity website wrote. The results should not come as a surprise for a country known around the world as “the Land of Smiles.”

“This survey confirms to the world that Thailand is a country of happy people. Our happiness comes from within and we want to share it to the world. And in this era, Instagram is one of the best social media channels to show our happiness to our friends and people from around the world,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Other research shows that 52 percent of Thai people are online, and 8 million of them have Instagram accounts, while the Kingdom has the second-highest number of LINE messaging users in the world at 33 million people.

Bangkok’s prominent shopping mall Siam Paragon was also recently named among the world’s most photographed locations on Instagram, and a few years ago Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok was also on the list.