New Study: Facebook Likes Good for Internet Marketing Bad For Privacy?

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What  a user 'likes' on Facebook can reveal a number of personality traits and preferences according to a new study.

However, one of the key figures behind the research has warned the social network site users to be more careful over their privacy online.

In total, the researchers from Cambridge's Psychometric Centre were able to predict the personality traits of more than 58,000 US users - simply by analysing their likes.

The study from Cambridge University was able to predict whether a user was black or white 95% of the time and also whether the user was homosexual 88% of the time.

Aside from things such as sexuality and political preference, the study was also able to predict drug use in users at an accuracy of 65%.

Other curious findings included predicting users were shy if they liked Terry Pratchett and predicting users were probably dissatisfied with life if they liked the iPod.

Cambridge University Psychometrics Centre operations director, Michal Kosinski, said: "The important point is that, on one hand, it is good that people's behaviour is predictable because it means Facebook can suggest very good stories on your news feed.

"But what is shocking is that you can use the same data to predict your political views or your sexual orientation. This is something most people don't realise you can do."

He warned that in terms of privacy, certain information revealed by users could actually be a threat to their safety. He noted while users might be OK with corporations knowing personal information, they might not be as comfortable when it comes to those in power.

He added: "But if you ask about governments, I am not sure people would like them to predict things like religion or sexuality, especially in less peaceful or illiberal countries."

Mr Kosinski said the research also showed the advantages of those using Facebook for Internet marketing purposes, especially when it comes to recruiting.

He said: "I would say the benefits outweigh the risks. HR recruitment might benefit from this a lot."

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