By now most of you are security conscious. You know what to click, what not to, and have your Facebook profiles locked down—leaving all your personal info visible to just your friends (right?). Status updates, wall posts, photos, who your friends are—all of that info is safe. But when it comes to “liking” something, that’s a whole different story. Likes are public. You’d be surprised to know there’s more info about you out there than you’d care to, well—like.
Bet a few likes can’t really know who you are? A study at the University of Cambridge will put your money where your likes are. Whether you’ve liked a movie review on the web, or a Facebook fan page for your favorite band, it’s all public and it all says something about you. The study analyzed the likes of 58,000 profiles in the US with a computer, and the results are in.
Predicting a person’s skin color was a black and white issue—literally. In 95% of the cases, the computer was able to guess whether a person was Caucasian or African American, just from their likes. Other high ranking guesses include your gender, political view, religion, relationship status and even sexual orientation!
Yup, that’s right. Who needs gaydar when you can just check out a guy’s likes?! If you see Kathy Griffin or “Wicked The Musical”—gay. Bruce Lee or The Wu-Tang Clan—straight. A little from column A, a little from column B? Well, you do the math.
If you think that’s scary, the results go even deeper than a closet. How about knowing if you smoked. If your parents divorced. Even guessing your IQ and personality levels fared better than just the flip of a coin’s odds.
If simply liking things can give that much info about you, think about all of the stuff you actually post to your profile? The public might not see your vacation pictures from Panama, or your last check in at that fancy new restaurant, but Facebook knows. That’s how it makes its money—selling off your personal data to advertisers.
All social media is really just a smokescreen for gathering personal data. In the hands of advertisers they can target ads at you better. Think about it. The more info that’s known about you, the more ads you’ll see that cater to just you. Targeted ads might not be the end of the world, but it’s still creepy.
Are you all paranoid now? What’s out there about me? What have I liked? What do they know? See for yourself! Check out youarewhatyoulike.com. Good luck!