Do you like your fries straight or curly? The answer may reveal more about you than you think.
According to a Cambridge University study
published Monday looking at how much what people "like" on Facebook can
reveal about who they are, people who openly declare their affinity for
curly fries on Facebook tend to have higher IQs.
Click by click,
Facebook users are building a surprisingly nuanced picture of
themselves, even without filling out their social networking profiles.
Researchers published the article online at the Proceedings for the
National Academy of the Sciences, showing off how they were able to
figure out traits such as gender, personality type, political views and
sexual orientation of individuals based on what 58,000 Facebook users
decided to "like" on sites around the Web.
All of the information in the study, the report said, was in the public domain.
found that they could, for example, correctly guess a man's sexual
orientation 88 percent of the time by analyzing the kinds of TV shows
and movies he liked. It also found that few gay men — less than 5
percent in the study — identify with groups that openly declare their
sexual orientation, so a man's preference for "Britney Spears" or
"Desperate Housewives" was more useful in predictions.
the researchers also found that they could figure out if a Facebook user
used drugs with about 65 percent accuracy based on their expressed
The study even included "like" predictors that
could tell whether users' parents had separated when they were young
vs. whether they had not.
Researchers told the British paper that
they hope this study raises users' awareness about the kind of
information they may not realize they're sharing with a wider audience.
some cases, the study said, this data could be beneficial to help
improve marketing recommendations or in psychology research. But the
study also raised concerns that it's too easy to gather telling data
about users without obtaining their permission.
"One can imagine
situations in which such predictions, even if incorrect, could pose a
threat to an individual's well-being, freedom or even life," researchers
said in the study's conclusion.
Facebook users can change the
privacy settings on what they've liked through the sites settings to
keep their fry — or any other kind of preference — out of the public's
Monday, May 20 2013 6:38 PM EDT2013-05-20 22:38:01 GMT
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