What you Like on Facebook could reveal more than you think
Before you Like a funny post or comment, think about what it could do to your privacy
Computerworld - Before you "like" a friend's or company's post on Facebook, think twice. A new study shows that your Facebook "likes" may be far more revealing than you ever thought.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. announced on Monday that a new study shows that users' Likes on Facebook alone accurately indicate their race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, substance use and political views.
The study also notes that Facebook Likes could be used to extract sensitive information about almost anyone regularly using Facebook, which is the largest social network, with more than 1 billion global users.
"I am a great fan and active user of new amazing technologies, including Facebook. I appreciate automated book recommendations, or Facebook selecting the most relevant stories for my newsfeed," said Michal Kosinski, operations director at the university's Psychometric Centre and a researcher in the study. "However, 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."
Using an algorithm, researchers analyzed the data from more than 58,000 U.S. Facebook users, who volunteered their Likes, demographic profiles and personality tests. They were able to accurately predict males' sexuality 88% of the time, distinguish African-Americans from Caucasian Americans 95% of the time, and tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans 85% of the time.
The researchers also said that they could use Likes to predict a user's relationship status 65% of the time, and if there was a substance abuse problem 73% of the time.
All of this could be a threat to users' privacy, the rsearchers said, noting that governments, companies and individuals could use their own predictive software to analyze users' Likes information and get more personal information about people than they had meant to reveal.
"Just the possibility of this happening could deter people from using digital technologies and diminish trust between individuals and institutions, hampering technological and economic progress," said Kosinski. "Users need to be provided with transparency and control over their information."
Just last month, a study came out showing that Facebook users often cause trouble in their own relationships, by posting too many intimate details on the social networking site.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is email@example.com.
- Franken presses Ford on location data collection practices
- Justices let stand appeals court decision on border searches of laptops
- California lawmakers move to bar state help to NSA
- Appeals court again nixes Google's bid to overturn Street View case
- Older Mac webcams can spy without activating warning light
- Update: Judge rules NSA spy efforts may be unconstitutional
- Perspective: Privacy concerns could keep Amazon delivery drones grounded
- NSA collects data from millions of cellphones daily
- Perspective: Curbing data use is key to reining in NSA
- Lavabit-DOJ dispute zeroes in on encryption key ownership
Read more about Privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts