Home Facebook Data Mining: Truth in Association?

Facebook Data Mining: Truth in Association?

With a product as ubiquitous as Facebook, the public has raised a number of privacy-related concerns including optional settings, privacy policies and data mining. In the past, ReadWriteWeb covered Facebook’s plans to sell user data for market research purposes. However, today’s article in the Boston Globe suggests that user information can be mined for more than just advertising purposes.

An MIT experiment dubbed, “Gaydar” by creators Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree has employed computational analysis to identify user traits based on information listed by their Facebook friends. Through friend profiles, the program predicts the likelihood of your religious affiliations, political leanings and even your sexual orientation. Essentially the idea is that friends are likely to share traits. So if you’re in the closet, but you’ve got loads of vocal friends, a program of this nature could potentially out you.

Said Hal Abelson, a professor who co-taught the course, “[It] pulls the rug out from a whole policy and technology perspective that the point is to give you control over your information – because you don’t have control over your information.”

With the service being used to catch tax evaders, in addition to a conspiracy theory citing CIA ties, it’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to this latest show of Facebook data mining capabilities. While it’s unlikely that terrorist suspects are friending each other on Facebook, there are a number of associations that need not be publicized to corporate partners or governments.

Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.