Image: Gull I

January 13, 2015


Reason NOT to Use Facebook #211

January 13, 2015

anti-facebookThe article here has a perfectly true title:  By using Facebook you are giving the security services (and corporations) “the key to your soul.”

Researchers studied the “likes” of tens of thousands of Facebook users and built some algorithms around what they discovered.  They then asked 17,000 people to describe answers someone close to them would give to a questionnaire:

The results, from most humans, were stunningly inaccurate. Friends, family and co-workers were all less able to predict how someone would fill out a personality test than the algorithms that had been primed with the subject’s Facebook likes. With only 10 likes to work on, the computer was more accurate than a work colleague would be. With 150 likes, it described the subject’s personality better than a parent or sibling could. And with 300 likes to work on, it was more accurate than a spouse …

[S]ecurity services [could repeat] the research and [come] up with their own numbers. Should they do this, they will have a mine of data on our inmost characters of which earlier secret police forces could only dream

The researchers are worried about the implications for privacy when this data falls into the hands of advertisers or recruitment companies. They are quite right in this. But it is much harder to defend such information against sifting by the state. We are only beginning to grasp how big data can change the world – but it is leading us into a world where, after the suburban murderer is caught, after the neighbours say “he always seemed so quiet and polite”, it won’t be the things he said on social media that betray his real personality – but the things he merely liked.

I realize it is too late for most of you but, if you haven’t yet joined Facebook, let this be a strong indication to you that you should not.


Previous Don’t Use Facebook posts.