Does Facebook know you better than your friends and family do? Study says yes

Facebook “likes” can help predict your personality better than your friends, family and even spouse can, according to a new study.

The computer predictions in the study, released Monday by researchers at Stanford and Cambridge universities, were based on articles, videos and other items people liked on Facebook. The predictions were compared with a subject’s self-assessment, as well as those by the subject’s friends and family.

“It shows that machines can get to know us better than we’d previously thought, a crucial step in interactions between people and computers,” the researchers said, according to Stanford News.

“In this context,” said Michal Kosinski, co-lead author and postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Department of Computer Science, “the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as ‘Her’ seem not to be beyond our reach.” The movie is about a lonely man’s relationship with a computer operating system.

Creepy, right? The researchers admit the findings could add to already prevalent privacy concerns surrounding what Facebook and others know about us.

But looking on the bright side, real-life applications might include tools to help recruiters find the right match for a job, or for companies to predict which products their customers might like.

The researchers collected self-ratings of 86,220 volunteers using a 100-item personality questionnaire. Facebook friends and family members were given a 10-item questionnaire. Computer assessments were issued based on Facebook likes.

The results, according to Stanford News: “A computer could more accurately predict the subject’s personality than a work colleague by analyzing just 10 likes; more than a friend or a roommate with 70; a family member with 150; and a spouse with 300 likes.”


Photo from AFP/Getty Images


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