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Networking is both the glory and the bane of the modern age. It
connects us to our friends and family in a way that would be impossible
20 years ago, but there are very few that use it who don't feel at least
a little... exposed.
a bit of a mental disconnect where we are all aware that what we put on
the internet is publically accessible, but we’re still willing to share
our interests in great detail.
You may think that what you post on Facebook doesn't reveal too much about yourself, but a recent study by
the University of Cambridge discusses a system of working out a
person's personality and background from as little as a single Facebook
quickly explain how, they took a sample of 58,466 American volunteers,
who gave their Facebook profiles, a list of their Likes, and took a
standardised personality test. Matching the test results to the pages
they liked, those correlations were used to work out the personalities
of other Facebook users.
range of categories discerned is pretty mind blowing, if I'm honest.
Things like age and gender are obvious, but the ability to predict
things like race, sexuality, political leanings and drug use is a lot
more shocking. In fact, male homosexuality was predicted with 85%
accuracy and determining race (either Caucasian or African American) was
predicted with a whopping 95%.
are also results for personality traits like intelligence, emotional
stability and satisfaction with life, but the accuracy of these was a
lot more variable. The levels of IQ determined from Likes only matched
up with personality tests 39% of the time. However, to guess something
as nebulous as intelligence correctly more than a third of the time is
nothing to sniff at.
course, the more Likes a person has, the easier it is to determine
their personality. For age and gender, you only need to have Liked 10
things for this system to guess right with at least 50% accuracy. The
curve of prediction accuracy peters out eventually, so those of you out
there with 700 Likes, you don't need to worry - the system could figure
you out with 300.
types of Liked items that indicated personality traits are a mixed bag.
It wouldn't take much lateral thinking to decide if someone who Liked
the "No H8 Campaign"
page is gay or not, but "Curly Fries" don't seem to have an obvious
relation to high IQ. I definitely agree with "Being Confused After
Waking Up From Naps" being an indicator of Male Heterosexuality.
study is understandably scary news to anyone who has concerns for
internet privacy, but although we humans can't help but use social
trends to express ourselves, we have far more than just one personality.
you identify yourself changes all the time, depending on where you are
and who you're talking to. Your personality online is most likely a good
deal different from how you are in real life, and I’m sure the way you
use Facebook is different to your Twitter social life.
sadly quite hard to break social stereotyping and mask your gender,
race or sexuality online (even if you don't overtly post about it,
correlations can still be made), but your emotional stability or your
tastes in entertainment change all the time. There's no need to feel
indignant just because Liking Lady Antebellum is linked to low IQ.
hope the researchers of this study move on to other social networks in
later research. A personality breakdown on Tumblr would be a sight to
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