Facebook can detect your secret personality traits without your knowledge. It does so with your own help; you give away your personal information with the posts, pages, comments, photos, and advertisements that you “like,” according to a study done by David Stillwell and his colleagues.
Facebook, which was launched in 2004, has now grown to be the most used social media platform with more than a billion users worldwide. It has impacted the lives of people across different age groups and cultures more than any other social media platform. Its wide accessibility through mobile phones has allowed people to spend more time on Facebook and stay connected with their friends, loved ones, and networks anytime they want. More than half of Facebook’s billion users are able to access their accounts through their mobile phones.
The social media giant has had tremendous effects on the lives of people around the world. It has reunited loved ones looking for each other through the widespread “sharing” of photos. It has reconnected classmates that have lost touch for many, many years, even decades. It has also influenced fashion trends, popularized music and films, promoted social causes, and made unknown people famous through their videos and photos that went viral. The influence of Facebook on popular culture is no small matter, and the social media company has capitalized on people’s usage patterns to drive their advertising campaigns.
The study done by Stillwell and colleagues from Cambridge University focuses on how a person’s “liking” patterns reveal his or her secret personal traits. So, is it possible to determine certain details about a person, such as their political leanings, history of alcohol or drug abuse, and even sexual orientation just by looking at the things he or she likes on Facebook? According to Stillwell, it is. Liking something seems like an innocent action, but it reveals a lot about who you are.
The researchers from Cambridge University took 58,466 individuals and analyzed their Facebook likes. From the data they gathered, they created a model or program that determined individuals’ traits based on their liking activity. The results turned out to be surprisingly accurate. The model was able to tell what the users’ gender, race, and sexual orientation were. It even determined if the user was a Republican or a Democrat supporter.
There was one category in which the model’s accuracy was quite low, at only 60%. This category sought to discover if the user’s parents got separated before the user reached 21 years of age by checking if they liked updates about relationships, particularly those updates that expressed undying love.
According to the study, men who liked the Broadway musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz or Kathy Griffin were more likely to be gay, while those who liked manly icons like Bruce Lee were more likely to be straight. Your liking activity can likewise reveal your level of intelligence. For example, if you liked the TV shows Science and The Daily Show, the program will say that you are a highly intelligent person.
The program did not base its results from just one click; it took all of a person’s likes on Facebook to get the prevailing patterns before giving its conclusion. Thus, if you saw a male friend liking Wicked, you cannot say right away that he is gay. You have to take his entire liking activity into consideration before you can identify his personal traits. Furthermore, the program that the researchers used was an imperfect one and may have had a bit of inaccuracy.
You can try the model yourself by logging in at youarewhatyoulike.com using your Facebook account to know what your liking activity reveals about yourself and to see how accurate the program is. The site deletes your personal data so you don’t have to worry about personal information being stored.