You Are What You 'Like' on Facebook
Scientists find smart people like curly fries, liberals like ... cuddling
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2013 4:07 AM CDT
Updated Mar 12, 2013 6:16 AM CDT
A sign with Facebook's "Like" logo is posted at Facebook headquarters near the office for the company's User Operations Safety Team in Menlo Park, Calif.    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

(Newser) – The race, sexual orientation, political leanings, and many other personal details about Facebook users can be revealed with a stunning degree of accuracy by analyzing their "likes," according to new research. Experts using data from 58,000 volunteers created a program that could spot gay men 88% of the time, tell black people from white people 95% of the time, and even detect smokers with 75% accuracy, ScienceNews reports. The links weren't always obvious: People who "liked" cuddling tended to have left-leaning politics, while fans of curly fries tended to be more intelligent than average.

"I appreciate automated book recommendations, or Facebook selecting the most relevant stories for my newsfeed," the lead researcher says. "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." He recommends that those concerned about privacy start by adjusting their settings on Facebook, which makes "likes" public by default.

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
Mar 17, 2013 12:43 PM CDT
it is a foolish idea to think you know someone by what they have said they liked without knowing the degree to which they feel about it. Furthermore you do not know your girlfriend or boyfriend if you do not know what they HATE or dislike. While some people will say dislike, others will not tolerate at all. cheers children!
Mar 13, 2013 12:01 AM CDT
This is pretty dumb. I will give them credit for not making the mistake of putting liberals and smart people in the same category.
Mar 12, 2013 3:46 PM CDT
These are sociological findings, and I am sure they will prove quite accurate. When you think about it, there is some good potential mixed with the bad. I do a clumsy version of this when I refuse to rent to cigarette smokers. But the results are so good, that it has cut my work and anxiety as a apt. manager by 3/4.