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March 12, 2013

What your Facebook likes say about you

A new report suggests people are saying a lot more about themselves online than they realize. One of the basic features of Facebook, the world's largest social media site, is that it allows and encourages people to "like" various pages set up for businesses, celebrities, or just basic ideas. Researchers found that the pages people like can be surprisingly revealing about basic details.

This isn't a matter of the obvious pages. Someone who "likes" a page dedicated to the Green Bay Packers could reasonably be assumed to be a fan. This is a question of whether a program can accurately predict intelligence or sexual orientation based on pages people like.

Researchers found strong correlations between personality attributes and certain page likes. People who "liked" curly fries and thunderstorms were more likely to also have higher intelligence, while likes of Clark Griswold and Bret Michaels were associated with lower intelligence. None of those examples has an obvious connection.

Neither does the fact people who like the iPod or Stewie Griffin are more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives than people who like Indiana Jones and swimming.

All this raises the basic question of "So what?" Someone looking at what pages a person likes and concluding they're probably an outgoing individual is not generally going to raise concerns.

The questions come in when you take multiple factors and start building a profile that becomes almost eerily detailed. No one is recommending that you drop social media or quit looking at pages that appeal to you. But it may be worth taking the time to think about just how much information about yourself you leave on a digital trail.

 

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