Facebook Likes Say Who You Really Are

What you like and what you are interested in may reveal a lot more than you think, according to a new research. Moreover, your social media profile can tell experts how intelligent, serious and open-minded person you are.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in Britain found that personal information, as well as likes, interests, and hobbies that we endorse on popular social media websites actually say a lot more about us than we initially intended. According to the results, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, easy and exact predictions about someone’s personality can be made based solely on the public information about them in the web. David Stillwell of the psychometrics center at Cambridge and his colleagues invited a little over 58,000 Facebook users to in the United States to take personality and intelligence tests. The researchers also reviewed the users’ profile information and likes.

There were different sets of likes that actually predicted personal traits. For example, in 95% of the cases likes predicted user’s gender and ethnicity, in 85% – whether you were a Democrat or a Republican, and Christians and Muslims were identified in 82% of the time. If you like The Colbert Report, classical music, science and curly fries, you are most likely to have a high IQ. NASCAR and The Bachelor likes mean you are conservative person who is less open to new things, but if you like Under Armour, a sports goods brand, and the metal band Slayer, then you are a smoker. Sexual orientation was also easier to distinguish – in 88% for males, and 75% of females.

Although there were some obvious signs for personal attributes such as the relationship between science and intelligence, no explanations were found about the weird link between curly fries and high IQ. The researchers say that the conclusions from the paper are very concerning because they show that even our improved social media profiles can reveal too much about who we really are. So, they urge Facebook users to adjust their privacy settings and review their likes very carefully in order to avoid unpleasant conclusions about them. Privacy, however, isn’t the main problem here, according to Cambridge. Most concerning is that Facebook likes really predict personal traits. What is the formula of low intelligence? Sephora, I Love Being A Mom, Harley Davidson and Lady Antebellum.

So, what will happen if your employer sees that you like fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett? This could indicate you are an introvert. It turns out we can’t hide behind computer screens and pretend to be someone better or smarter on Facebook, we are just who we are.

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