facebook-likeAre you among those who innocuously press the thumps up button on Facebook when you like a post? Well! It is time to give it a second thought. A recent research of the Cambridge University suggests that the Facebook likes can reveal a lot of traits about the individual like his political views, IQ level and sexual orientation.

The Famous Facebook Likes

Facebook first introduced the like option way back in April 2010 and since then it has gone viral, accounting to almost 3 billion likes each day. It is a parameter against which online campaigners measure the success of their promotions and it plays a vital role in the graph search application. We see every blog post almost screaming to the viewer to like it on Facebook. Log on to YouTube and you are sure to encounter requests such as – would you be so kind to like this on Facebook. Such is its reach and influence on the cyber space. It is almost habitual for us to like a post which captured our attention without any second thought. Well! Not anymore.

The Study

This study conducted on various individuals using their Facebook likes reveals that you could predict their personality traits using their likes. The accuracy rate is a whopping 80%. The researchers undertook study on 58,000 Facebook likes of American users and came out with the conclusion that they can assess many qualities of an individual like

  • Intelligence Quotient
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious Beliefs
  • Political inclinations
  • Gender
  • Personality
  • Race
  • Substance usage
  • Age

These findings were recently published on the Monday (11-3-2013) edition of “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.

Statistics Revealed in the study

The overall accuracy of the study is 80% but when we break them into categories we get a lot of interesting snippets.

  • Among the various traits that were analysed, the researchers were able to predict the ethnicity of the user with the highest accuracy rate. They were able to tell whether the user was a African American or a Caucasian American with an accuracy of 95%
  • The gender of the user was predicted with an accuracy rate of 93%
  • Democrats and Republicans were identified correctly in 85% cases
  • Religion (mainly Christianity and Islam) was guessed correctly at 83% accuracy rate
  • The researchers had better luck in predicting homosexuals among the males than the females. Among men sexual orientation was predicted correctly in 88% of cases and it decreases drastically to 75% among females.
  • Relationship status prediction has an accuracy rate of 73%
  • Substance use was rather hard to predict and is at 65%

Variables Researched

The researchers analysed various information provided by the users such as

  • Status updates
  • Likes of photos and posts
  • Views on sports and music
  • Comments on books and events
  • Expressions and views on various news events

Employing various algorithms the researchers conducted a detailed study on the above-mentioned criteria and demographic profiles given to them by volunteers

Implications of the study

With the web space in particular social websites being the latest target for extensive promotion campaigns, these data predicted by the researchers are worth a fortune. Now all those marketing sharks can go for the kill knowing exactly which group to target for their product. They now have first hand information about the interests of a Facebook user and this will enable them to send personalised campaign to him.

On the other hand as a user, you have to be worried about your privacy being breached. Well there are always two sides to a coin but nevertheless it never ceases to astonish you what people could do using technology.


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By Techwacky

Editor-in-Chef of TechWacky.com