Monday, March 11, 2013

Facebook profiling

My last post I discussed various privacy issues as they relate to utility companies.

Most readers will be aware of the privacy drawbacks of Facebook. People have heard the stories of how people have lost their jobs because their boss read something they didn't care for on their Facebook page. Or perhaps the reader has heard of people who were asked to hand over the passwords to their Facebook accounts to prospective employers.

Today the news was out that it is not just people the Facebook user chooses to allow to view their personal information who can draw conclusions about FB users.

A Facebook app, mypersonality, tracks a person's "Likes" and draw conclusions based on that data.

A study published Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed the likes of 58,000 facebook users and was able to tell a person's sexual orientation, race and political affiliation correctly in greater than 85% of study participants. 

Researchers also attempted to determine user's religion, drug and alcohol use and IQ.

The public is sold on the idea of giving up their personal data with the promise that the experience will be greatly enhanced by providing advertising that might appeal to the user. 

The implications of such profiling are a bit frightening. Black or white, gay or straight, democrat or republican, christian or muslim? One of which eight different personality types? Drinker, medicinal marijuana user or supporter? Add that to the information on your browsing history(if you stay logged in to Facebook while browsing the net, they know where you go) and think back to the McCarthy era. 

Perhaps certain people don't agree with various policies? Perhaps they have the profile of an activist?

What about the internment of Japanese Americans during WW2?

Opponents of any criticism are hushed with the words, "If you're not up to anything, you shouldn't be worried."

Are you worried yet?

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