What Does “Ratio” Mean on Social Media?

What Does “Ratio” Mean on Social Media?

A worried woman looking at her smartphone.
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“Ratio” on social media refers to the ratio of replies or comments to likes. A high ratio of replies to likes suggests that a post is unpopular or controversial.

Have you ever seen a bunch of people replying “ratio” to a tweet and not known what it means? We’ll explain what a social media ratio is and why it matters.

What Does “Ratioed” Mean?

On social media, “ratio” refers to the number of replies or comments as compared to likes. A post being referred to as “ratioed” means that it has more replies than likes and is likely divisive, unpopular, or generally controversial.

Not all ratios are created equal. Some ratios may have replies that are about the same number as the likes, which implies that reception is mixed. However, in other cases, replies can outnumber likes by a wide margin, which shows that a post is wildly unpopular.

Spotting a Ratio

To spot a ratio, look for a tweet with significantly more replies than likes or retweets. That means that the tweet and the user have been ratioed, likely because many people disagreed with their take. Other users will also frequently reply to the original tweet with “ratio” or “ratioed” to imply that their opinion is not being taken well. Some people might also say that “the ratio is awful” to discuss the balance of a particular tweet.

Being ratioed also happens concurrently with “brigading,” which means mobilizing a group of people to do something on the internet. Often, fans of a celebrity will comment “ratio” as a call to action for other people to leave negative replies.

A Controversial Measure

Trolls, who create posts that are deliberately meant to anger people, are often ratioed. Their comments are met with widespread dislike, which translates to the ratio.

Ratios are also common in internet fights. We previously explained “stan culture,” which refers to the intense fandom of people over a certain celebrity figure. Stans will often attempt to ratio tweets from supporters of what they perceive to be “opposing” groups of fans.

RELATED: What Is a “Stan,” and Where Does the Name Come From?

Twitter and Ratios

The vast majority of the instances of something being ratioed can be found on the social networking site Twitter. It’s no surprise, seeing as the app is known for being heated and contentious. The presence of companies, celebrities, politicians, and their supporters, plus plenty of talk about controversial and divisive topics, makes ratios a common sight there.

The term “ratio” was likely coined around 2017, although its exact origin is unknown. However, one of the big reasons it took off was an article from Esquire discussing the importance of “The Ratio” on Twitter. The article discussed the response of United Airlines to a passenger being pulled from one of their flights. Currently, this tweet has over 52,000 replies and just around 6,400 likes.

United Airlines CEO Response
United Airlines Twitter

Since then, ratios have become a part of online culture and are widely understood on Twitter. They became even more prominent in 2020 when celebrity fans known as “stans” adopted the phrase. The first definition on Urban Dictionary was created in September of 2020.

Other Places with Ratios

Ratios exist on basically every social networking site with likes, comments, and a counter that displays the number of likes and comments. This includes other traditional social media apps like Facebook and Instagram as well as content-sharing platforms like TikTok and YouTube. On YouTube, ratios are commonly seen in the comments sections of videos.

Other places, such as Reddit, do not have ratios at all. Because of Reddit’s karma system with upvotes and downvotes, users do not need to comment to voice their displeasure at a particular post. Unpopular posts will get voted to the bottom of the thread or be marked as “controversial,” which is a status where a post has many upvotes and downvotes at the same time.

How to Not Get Ratioed

Being ratioed can be incredibly unnerving, especially when it happens on a large scale. You get thousands of notifications from various people you don’t know, and it can even translate to direct messages toward you.

If you’re not ready to handle that, be sure to think before you tweet. While many people post some divisive opinions on the internet, the most common kinds of tweets that get ratioed are actively malicious or offensive. Avoid actively trying to insult others, and you’re unlikely to get a ratio.

Alternatively, you can set your social media accounts, especially your Twitter account, to private. That works, too.

RELATED: How to Make Your Twitter Account Private

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