Facebook: Your New Girlfriend

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Facebook have once again changed one of their most iconic features ,and as always people are split between liking it, loving it, or hating it. But as a data enthusiast and privacy devotee something just doesn’t sit right with me.

Allow me to explain.

To begin lets go to Cambridge back in 2013, the headline reads: “Research shows that intimate personal attributes can be predicted with high levels of accuracy from ‘traces’ left by seemingly innocuous digital behaviour, in this case Facebook Likes.” Take a second to digest what that actually means…The things you do online simply reflect who you are. Common sense right? But what does “high accuracy” mean exactly?

Once again, quoting the article:

Surprisingly accurate estimates of Facebook users’ race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, substance use and political views can be inferred from automated analysis of only their Facebook Likes information publicly available by default

Keywords here are automated and publicly available.

You get the idea, smart people can deduce information about the kind of person you are using fast computers and Facebook likes.

Let’s move a little further forward, 2015, still in Cambridge. The headline reads: “Using a new algorithm, researchers have calculated the average number of Likes artificial intelligence (AI) needs to draw personality inferences about you as accurately as your partner or parents“… and take  a guess as to what those numbers are?

 A computer could more accurately predict the subject’s personality than a work colleague by analysing just ten Likes; more than a friend or a cohabitant (room-mate) with 70, a family member (parent, sibling) with 150, and a spouse with 300 Likes.

Carrying on…

Given that an average Facebook user has about 227 Likes (and this number is growing steadily), the researchers say that this kind of AI has the potential to know us better than our closest companions.

Well, given all this new information I don’t know if I want to start planning for a Her-esque AI girlfriend, or go about bringing Facebook down.

What I do know is that with this update Facebook is rolling out that they’re going to have better, more accurate data to work with in the future and I assure you, they will be working with it. Is it a bad thing or a good thing that Facebook knows you better than anyone in the world? I leave that up to you.

I for one will be feeding them false negatives, so, in advance, sorry friends…

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