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Facebook Knows You Better Than Your Family

Facebook Knows Best

A recent study conducted by the University of Cambridge has resulted in the development of software that can deduct a person’s personality better than any friend or relative based on the individuals ‘likes’.


This means that computers and Facebook will know you better than anyone who you’re close to. Except I’m sure that your browsing history will always know you best.  

Researchers have managed to create this software by analysing the ‘Big Five’ psychological traits. If you’re not sure (I know I wasn't) the traits are: Openness, contentiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.  
Using these five traits, researchers have been able to create an algorithm which will accurately figure out your personality. So far, the software has been more successful than close friends and family at working out the details of a person’s personality.

I mean, I’m not sure how solid this software could be. According my Facebook my religious views are ‘Mongol Horse’ and I've liked numerous pages that I honestly have no interest in. My friends liked Cinderella for me and I never took it down. Sometimes it’s nice to get a reminder that a charming prince is still out for me on a Tuesday morning.

Either way, so far the software has been very successful. By using just 10 likes, it can analyse you better than a work colleague. With 70, it does a better job than a room-mate or friend. 150 lets it outperform parents, siblings or relatives and with 300 it does even better than spouses.

So, is it time for us to start shacking up with robots already? Seems a bit too soon for that dystopia.

According to the researchers, by looking at pages that had been liked be individuals was a key method to establish this algorithm. For example, if someone had liked ‘Salvador Dali’ or ‘meditation’ they would be revealed to have high levels of the ‘openness’ trait.

I remain perplexed by this. But hey, I’m not about to pick a fight with Cambridge University.

Here’s a breakdown of how they reached to the point they’re at now:

86,220 volunteers on Facebook completed a 100-item personality questionnaire and allowed their 'Likes' to be accessed.

The results of the computerised character assessment were compared with judgements of friends and family members made using a shorter version of the personality test.


Dr David Stillwell, from Cambridge University, said: 
‘The ability to judge personality is an essential component of social living – from day-to-day decisions to long-term plans such as whom to marry, trust, hire, or elect as president. The results of such data analysis can be very useful in aiding people when making decisions.’

However, researchers did field concerns over a dystopian future where each person can be evaluated like an open book with no need for any human interaction. Dr Michal Kosinski, another member of the team from Stanford University in the US said:
‘We hope that consumers, technology developers, and policymakers will tackle those challenges by supporting privacy-protecting laws and technologies, and giving the users full control over their digital footprints.’

So let’s see how this research develops. I bet your tailored ads on Facebook start getting just a little bit too personal

Tom has just graduated from University of East London in Creative and Professional Writing. He loves writing and is currently interning as a content writer hoping to go further. His other loves include Arnold Schwarzenegger films and his dog. Follow him @TomAtSMF

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Facebook Knows You Better Than Your Family Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 Rating: 5
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