Facebook ‘Liking’ Your Way To A Complete Personality Prediction.
On any given day, an avid Facebook user (like me) probably scrolls through their news feed and likes at least 5 pages/posts a day and the promptly forgets all about them. But perhaps it’s time to take those ‘likes’ a little more seriously, since a new study shows that likes alone can reveal much more information about you than perhaps even your entire Facebook profile can- such as your ethnicity, your political views, and if you use addictive substances.
According to Forbes, the study was carried out at Cambridge University using 58,000 likes from users who agreed to have their likes and profiles analyzed by an app called ‘myPersonality’. The results of the study showed that the app was 88% accurate in determining male sexual orientation, 95% accurate in distinguishing African-Americans from Caucasian Americans, and 85% accurate in telling Republicans from Democrats.
The app was also surprisingly pretty accurate at determining a user’s relationship status and if they were suffering from an addiction. “Even seemingly opaque personal details such as whether users’ parents separated before the user reached the age of 21 were accurate to 60%,” was also mentioned in the study’s report. And remember all of this was determined just from what the users had liked on Facebook!
The study also showed some hilarious connections, such as a direct correlation between high IQ and liking curly fries, and low intelligence to liking pages like “Sephora” and “Harley Davidson”. (But what if you like both curly fries AND Sephora, like me?)
However, innocuous result aside, the study raises some serious concerns about user’s privacy on Facebook. Michal Kosinski, one of the coauthors of the research, himself suggested that the study raised red flags on privacy. “I am a great fan and active user of new amazing technologies, including Facebook. I appreciate automated book recommendations, or Facebook selecting the most relevant stories for my news feed,” he was quoted as saying. “However, I can imagine situations in which the same data and technology is used to predict political views or sexual orientation, posing threats to freedom or even life.
Since Facebook is known to share user information with quite a lot of companies, and the US government if requested to do so, profiling users based on their likes could be very discriminating and even harmful to them.
So while some of you are probably even now going back on Facebook to ‘unlike’ everything on your profile, please excuse me while I try to push up my IQ a bit – with curly fries of course.