At some point or another, we’ve all pondered what we reveal about ourselves online. I’m sure that some have even consciously curbed some of our online comments just because, well, it would be a little uncomfortable if a girlfriend/mom/buddy/wife/sister/boss/etc. happened upon a poorly thought-out late-night post written in a moment of stupidity.
But guess what? It turns out you don’t even have to write a single word online for somebody to figure out not only the nuts and bolts of who you are, but the kinds of things you’re thinking right now. All it takes is a couple of likes.
According to a new study out of the University of Cambridge, it’s possible to predict from your Facebook “likes” your religion, political affiliations, sexual orientation, level of intelligence and even whether you drink beer or smoke pot on the weekends. The researchers matched up Facebook profiles with surveys and personality tests that they gathered from over 58,000 people. And with that they created a scientific model that they say can peg you better than your Mom can read a guilty look from 10 paces.
The model, for instance, pointed out that guys who “like” Kathy Griffin, Juicy Couture, or the musical Wicked have a high probability of being gay. Sports and Bruce Lee? Straight as an arrow. “Likes” for The Daily Show, Lord of the Rings, curly fries and a page called “Morgan Freeman’s Voice” are likely to indicate a high IQ. On the other hand, people who “like” Harley-Davidson, Lady Antebellum and a Facebook page called “I Love Being a Mom,” uh, not so much.
Now if you’re like me and into humming Wicked tunes while you eat curly fries, keep tabs on the football draft and wash your Harley, well, I guess that just means you’ve got issues, too. In any case, the researchers say that they’ve hit the 95% accuracy mark on a bunch of categories such as religion and sexuality and could even predict with at least 60% accuracy things like whether a person’s parents had divorced before the kids turned 21.
The gang at Cambridge even went so far as to set up a Web tool at youarewhatyoulike.com that you can use on your own Facebook page and see how well their model works. The site does an instant test and then reports how open, agreeable, extroverted and conscientious you are.
It all seems pretty interesting. But, of course, it once again raises that whole privacy concern. And even the study’s co-author, David Stillwell said as much. “My biggest concern is that people do not realize what is possible, so they think that frivolous behaviors such as liking something cannot possibly say anything important about them,” Stillwell told CNN.
Fortunately, I can breathe a sigh of relief on this one. No one’s gonna analyze me through this program. Why? Because on Facebook, I don’t “like” anything, of course. Foiled you again, Internet!