Study claims personal info including sexual orientation, drug use and political beliefs could be deduced from public 'like' updates on facebook
A Cambridge University study claims Facebook 'likes' may be revealing more about users than they know including sexual orientation, drug use and political beliefs.
According to a survey covering 58,000 Facebook users in the US, researchers at the university were able to deduce personal information about people.
As part of the survey, researchers used a computer algorithm to analyse personality characteristics, while pointing out some details could be derived by anyone with training in data analysis.
According to researchers, algorithms proved 88% true for determining male sexuality, 95% precise in distinguishing African-American from Caucasian-American and 85% for differentiating Republican from Democrat.
Cambridge University analyst Michal Kosinski was quoted by the Guardian as saying Facebook users would be 'spooked' by the findings and called for regulatory intervention by politicians.
"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," Kosinski said.
"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."
Additionally, internet users have been warned certain information, including sexuality or religious views, could pose threats to their safety if wrong persons get hold of it.
"Everyone carries around their Facebook 'likes', their browsing history and their search history, trusting corporations that it will be used to predict their movies or music tastes," Kosinski added.