Clicking that easy to press Facebook like button is something we’ve all got used to and how simple to show people what you like and agree with. Many do not realize however how much information they are giving away about themselves when they click it. A simple click on “like” is basically similar to filling in a free online survey every day about yourself and the way you think. It builds up a trail about you and your peer group to the things you like, think about, what you believe, what you do and what you enjoy in everyday life.
Liking your friends comments, videos, pictures and updates on facebook. (All of which including your pictures if on Facebook are now the property of Facebook) will build up a complete picture of you, who you are and what you do. Cambridge research has recently shown that Facebook can decide from clicking on that friendly blue like button and analyzing your likes whether you are Gay, what race you are, what religion and also which way you vote. The research has been published in the journal PNAS.
So following on from this information gathered about you and taking a further look at the photos that it owns about you it can easily predict where you are, where you go, if you drink or smoke, if you are married and so on. Your timeline will actually give, well a “timeline” of everything you do. Even your private messages to your friends are not your own private messages if done on facebook. Everything you do on Facebook is the property of Facebook and can and most certainly be read, sold or disclosed as and whenever Facebook wishes to use it. Often the conversations and information will just be scanned by a search algorithm for key words and traits using similar to the Google Bot.
The Facebook website is by all accounts a marketing companies dream. With Cambridge researchers claiming that they are actually able to accurately infer a Facebook user’s race, IQ, sexuality, substance use, personality or political views using only a record of the subjects and items they had “liked” on Facebook even if users had chosen not to reveal that information would you not agree that this information is useful not only to marketing companies but also corporate employers, the police and of course and most importantly the Governments?
A worrying thing about this information being so revealing is that certain information such as sexuality or religious views could pose threats to internet users’ safety if falling into the wrong hands especially in less peaceful or illiberal countries.
So what are the biggest giveaways? Apparently it’s TV shows and movies. Cambridge researchers have said that they were able to predict whether men were homosexual with 88% accuracy by their likes of a Facebook page such as “Human Rights Campaign” or “Wicked the Musical”.
The findings come shortly after Facebook announced a partnership with four of the world’s biggest data brokers. Facebook claim that the data brokers are only aimed at improving targeted advertising on the facebook website. Facebook are looking to target ads to its users based on their online and offline activity to provide a better experience for them. Great, what else will they be doing Facebook?
Facebook declined to comment.