Monday, January 19, 2015

Nobody knows you like Facebook

As previously mentioned, I am not a Facebook user. (And, for the record, I have no problem with people who are avid Facebook users as long as they understand the site's policies.) I know how the site works as I used to have to monitor my company's account. When I did the monitoring, I had lots of internal conversations about data tracking with my bosses. So, I was very intrigued to read how well Facebook knows who you are with just your "like" data.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University have discovered that they were able to cobble incredibly accurate personality assessments on Facebook users just by looking at the information they liked. Using personality data mined from thousands of volunteers, the researchers created a computer model that associated liking certain companies or causes with various personality traits. It can read your data and tell you what type of person you are.

You can try it out here.

How accurate are we talking here? More accurate than people. Participants in the study also asked friends and family members to complete a personality sketch of them. In many cases the computer that evaluated Facebook likes was more accurate.

Even more surprising is the little amount of data the model needed to be more accurate than humans: It only needed to analyze 10 likes to outperform a person’s coworker, 70 likes to do better than a friend or roommate, and 150 likes to do better than a parent or sibling.

Maybe friends and family aren't paying close enough attention to all those posts of yours.

Who could give an accurate personality profile of you? Share with me in the comments.

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