Is it possible to predict Facebook users accurate age, intelligence, race, sexuality, personality, substance use and political leanings using Likes alone? Think again.
Yes, according to research at the University of Cambridge and Microsoft Research — using a dataset of more than 58,000 Facebook users (volunteers) in the USA collected between 2007 and 2012 researchers used algorithms to predict religion, politics, race and sexual orientation. The Likes include photos, friends’ status updates, Facebook pages of products, sports, musicians, books, restaurants or popular websites.
It’s as simple as a click, but every single “like” is revealing much more than just your taste in music and movies. study that will likely raise fresh concerns about privacy and online personalization!!!
The research, published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), forms surprisingly accurate personal portraits, researchers said.
The findings should “ring alarm bells” for users, privacy campaigners said.
“Each person, on average, liked 170 things,” says psychologist Michal Kosinski, the study’s lead author. “Some liked only one thing and there were people who liked thousands of things. We removed those. We looked at people who liked between one and 700 different things.”
“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 newsfeed,” says said Michal Kosinski, Operations Director at Cambridge’s Psychometric Centre.
“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.”
# The model correctly discriminates between homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases, African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases, and between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases.
# Christians and Muslims were correctly classified in 82% of cases and relationship status and substance abuse was predicted with an accuracy between 65% and 73%.
Here are few selected most predictive Likes:
People with High IQ: The Godfather, Mozart, Thunderstorms, The Colbert Report, Morgan Freemans Voice, The Daily Show, Lord Of The Rings, To Kill A Mockingbird, Science, Curly Fries
People with Low IQ: Jason Aldean, Tyler Perry, Sephora, Chiq, Bret Michaels, Clark Griswold, Bebe, I Love Being A Mom, Harley Davidson, Lady Antebellum
People Satisfied With Life: Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Proud To Be Christian, Indiana JonesvSwimming, Jesus Christ, Bible, Jesus, Being Conservative, Pride And Prejudice
People Dissatisfied With Life: Hawthorne Heights, Kickass, Atreyu (Metal Band), Lamb Of God, Gorillaz, Science, Quote Portal, Stewie Griffin, killswitch Engage, Ipod
Liberal & Artistic: Oscar Wilde, Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath, eonardo Da Vinci, Bauhaus, Dmt The Spirit Molecule, American Gods, John Waters, Plato, Leonard Cohen
Conservative: NASCAR, Austin Collie, Monster-In-Law, I don’t read, Justin Moore, ESPN2, Farmlandia, The Bachelor, Oklahoma State University, Teen Mom 2
Female: Tv Fanatic, hiq, Gillette Venus, Shoedazzle, Bebe, Proud To Be A Mom, Covergirl, et Seal, Aerie By American Eagle, Mall World
Male: Modern Warfare 2, ESPN, Sportscenter, Band Of Brothers, Starcraft, Deadliest Warrior, Dos Equis, Red Vs Blue, X Games, Bruce Lee
Sam Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, calls it a “landmark study” because it illustrates “how things are no longer ephemeral.” He has been studying Facebook behavior since 2006, and has seen this new study.
“You ‘Like’ something. You leave a comment on somebody’s wall. They are now recorded in a way that machines can calibrate and measure them with great accuracy,” he says. “Together, they add up to substantially more information from which you can make quite reasonably accurate predictions.”
Fred Wolens, a Facebook spokesman at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., says the predictions are “hardly surprising.”
“No matter the vehicle for information — a bumper sticker, yard sign, logos on clothing, or other data found online — it has already been proven that it is possible for social scientists to draw conclusions about personal attributes based on these characteristics,” he says.
“What is shocking is that you can use the same data to predict your political views or your sexual orientation. This is something most people don’t realize you can do,” lead researcher Michal Kosinski told The Guardian.