Online interactions are increasingly involving images, especially those containing human faces, which are naturally attention grabbing and more effective at conveying feelings than text. To understand this new convention of digital culture, we study the collective behavior of sharing selfies on Instagram and present how people appear in selfies and which patterns emerge from such interactions. Analysis of millions of photos shows that the amount of selfies has increased by 900 times from 2012 to 2014. Selfies are an effective medium to grab attention; they generate on average 1.1--3.2 times more likes and comments than other types of content on Instagram. Compared to other content, interactions involving selfies exhibit variations in homophily scores (in terms of age and gender) that suggest they are becoming more widespread. Their style also varies by cultural boundaries in that the average age and majority gender seen in selfies differ from one country to another. We provide explanations of such country-wise variations based on cultural and socioeconomic contexts.
(Published at ACM Conference on Online Social Networks 2015, Joint work with Flávio Souza, Diego de Las Casas, Vinícius Flores, SunBum Youn, Daniele Quercia, and Virgílio Almeida)