Facebook 'Likes' predict personality study

Occurred: May 2013

University of Cambridge researchers designed a set of algorithms to show how an accurate portrait of someone's personality, including their religious views, political beliefs, race, and sexual orientation, could be made from the things they have 'liked' on Facebook.

The researchers drew on data showing the Facebook likes of 58,000 volunteers in the US, which was analysed and matched with information from personality tests. The algorithms proved 88% accurate for determining male sexuality, 95% accurate in distinguishing African-American from Caucasian-American, and 85% for differentiating Republican from Democrat.

Digital rights and rivacy campaigners expressed their concerns about the study's findings, recommending people consider carefully that they share online. 

'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,' said Michael Kosinski, lead researcher on the project. 

System 🤖

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Kosinski M., Stillwell D., Graepel T.
Country: USA; UK
Sector: Research/academia; Technology
Purpose: Predict prersonality
Technology: Machine learning
Issue: Privacy
Transparency: Governance

Research, advocacy 🧮

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