The things you like on Facebook can reveal details about your personality according to a new study by the University of Cambridge. The team of researchers can reveal personality traits like you political opinions, sexual orientation, IQ, age, gender, race and unbelievably, the amount of substance an individual uses. Over 58,000 thousand volunteers participated in the project. An interesting part about the study was that the likes studied by the team at Cambridge had no relation to the final discovery about the individual under examination. For instance, the team studied the volunteer’s music and TV show likes and was able to predict the individual’s personality traits with a high rate of accuracy. Race was most accurately predicted with a 95 percent hit rate, sexual orientation among men came a close second at 88 percent accuracy and an 85 percent hit rate for political affiliation.
While this is a very interesting study, this poses a privacy threat to Facebook users. Marketing agencies can and will use this information to promote their products posing a security threat by covertly learning about a user’s personality traits. Users are inadvertently giving away huge amounts of personal information and with this kind of detailed analysis; their habits can be studied to reveal sensitive information about them.
Social media and network laws have not matured or evolved enough to protect a user’s privacy completely. There are still lots of grey areas that could pose problems ranging from simple annoyance form marketing agents to dangerous consequences if a user’s personality traits are analyzed by malicious individuals. While the project is very interesting, there need to be laws framed around how information gleaned about a Facebook user’s personality should be allowed to be used in such a way as to protect the user’s privacy and prevent unlawful distribution and exploitation of such information.