Though the Internet can afford people a degree of anonymity, privacy is still a major concern as data on one's online behavior is often stored somewhere for analysis. Thankfully more methods to protect privacy are being developed constantly, but those are often targeting the subtle data collection methods which will actually track your online movements. Now researchers at the University of Cambridge have found that the voluntary process of 'Liking' a topic on Facebook can actually expose you to having a detailed personality profile created from this public information.
The 'Liking' system itself is not new and altogether not too unusual as it gives Facebook users the ability to show support for some person, group, idea, etc. for one reason or another. This information however is publicly viewable by default and the researchers have just discovered how informative those likes are. After building a dataset of over 58,000 Facebook users, the researchers analyzed their Likes and the profile information the subjects provided to determine what Likes meant about you. With 88% certainty the researchers could predict if you are male; 95% certainty if you are African- or Caucasian-American; and 85% accurate at predicting political affiliation. Even religion, relationship status and substance would be predicted with a significant degree of accuracy.
The researchers are looking at this study in two ways. One is that this opens up new avenues of sociological research as so much information can be gathered from Likes. The other is that it may not be a bad idea for Facebook users to go in and change the privacy settings.
Source: University of Cambridge