Algorithm "Outs" Facebook Users

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Algorithm "Outs" Facebook Users

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A new algorithm released by MIT students can determine the sexual orientation of a person just by analyzing the sexual preferences of their friend networks.

It didn't begin as an insidious way to publicly out Facebook friends. The pair of MIT students who designed the algorithm did so for a class that was focused on ethics and law on the internet. The assignment was simple enough: Exactly how much information do we unwittingly reveal about ourselves when we friend people, "Like" certain topics, or become a fan of certain things?

The answer is: A lot more than you realized.

According to an analysis of friends networks on Facebook, students found that gay men had more gay friends than straight friends. Using that logic, a pair of MIT students created an algorithm that essentially "outs" people just by analyzing the breakup of their friends networks. Early tests of the equation successfully "outed" several gay people, just by analyzing the sexual preferences of their personal networks of friends. However, this same algorithm only worked to identify gay men; lesbians and bisexual men or women were not as easily outed.

"When they first did it, it was absolutely striking - we said, 'Oh my God - you can actually put some computation behind that,'" states Hal Aberson, a computer science professor at MIT. "That 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."

The project focused on the "homophily principle," basically the fact that like attracts like. If you're into dogs, you're more likely to friend people who also like dogs. If you're gay, you're more likely to hang out with people who are also gay. Using this basic principle, researchers are able to pick out a person's political affiliation, gender and even what breed of dog they prefer.

This really puts a new spin on internet privacy. It's not as easy as removing or hiding personal information on Facebook or Twitter. We can reveal truly personal information just by the internet crowd we pal around with.

Source: Boston Globe, via Popular Science

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I knew joining the "I like men with hairy bums" group would come back to bite me on the arse someday...

I dont even use any Social networking anyway, the only site is use often are The Escapist and Youtube.

i cant get over how ridiculous this is

Hmmm. It's a bit useless at the moment, but the algorithm should be able to get updated and find out some really cool stuff in the future.

I honestly don't see how this works... I mean a persons facebook friends will be made up of a variety people in their lives including family and family friends friends of friends you've only met once or twice e.t.c. so for it to judge you purely based on that it must skim over a lot of gay people and perhaps even misinterpret some straight people as gay.

Is there anyway to get this on my facebook? I have some friends I need to out...
Anyway, I get what it's getting at, I think it's pretty funny and I almost remember hearing about this sometime last year, but I'd love to use this.
Especialy when it gets furthered.
Alright, Algorithm, find out my friends weird kinks...

I'm not even saddened by how completely unnecessary this is. I'm just impressed.

It amuses me how much creedence people put into arbitrary computer algorithms (or other science for that matter) that take a completely surface impression and pass it off as something scientific. It's almost like science has become a religion to some people.

Tomster595:
Hmmm. It's a bit useless at the moment, but the algorithm should be able to get updated and find out some really cool stuff in the future.

Agreed.

I'll think more of it when it can find terrorists and criminals instead of which gender you would have sex with.

Ham_authority95:

Tomster595:
Hmmm. It's a bit useless at the moment, but the algorithm should be able to get updated and find out some really cool stuff in the future.

Agreed.

I'll think more of it when it can find terrorists and criminals instead of which gender you would have sex with.

There are about five or six programs that work fairly well to find Terrorists, but for the life of me I can't remember the name of them.

Well...thats one hell of a diagram...still, there is only so much you can learn...but, it is certainly an intresthing theory

sheic99:

Ham_authority95:

Tomster595:
Hmmm. It's a bit useless at the moment, but the algorithm should be able to get updated and find out some really cool stuff in the future.

Agreed.

I'll think more of it when it can find terrorists and criminals instead of which gender you would have sex with.

There are about five or six programs that work fairly well to find Terrorists, but for the life of me I can't remember the name of them.

Then that just makes this program an even more useless.

The only thing interesting in this article is, that picture in the corner.

And now over to the news room. Instead of developing technologies that could benifit mankind like medical equipment weve discovered how to find gays on facebook.

Seriously, what the hell. Fair play to them for figuring out how to alienate people even further.

This article reminds me of a Family Guy episode.

"If you try to take a blood sample and dangerous acid squirts out instead. Youve got a gay"
I quoted that because there are easier ways to find out if people are gay. Ask them

This is like saying weve developed a system to find out if someone is gay or not based on the bars they go to. Weve found that males who attend male strip clubs are fairly certain to be gay.

Thanks for that insight science. Now go cure cancer already

The project focused on the "homophily principle," basically the fact that like attracts like

However, this same algorithm only worked to identify gay men; lesbians and bisexual men or women were not as easily outed.

Doesn't that make it seem like the "homophily principle," doesn't work that well if it only applies to gay men

The DSM:
I knew joining the "I like men with hairy bums" group would come back to bite me on the arse someday...

I dont even use any Social networking anyway, the only site is use often are The Escapist and Youtube.

A person after my own heart.

OT: I don't believe this would be too reliable... Facebook is so full of crap...

Ham_authority95:

sheic99:

Ham_authority95:

Tomster595:
Hmmm. It's a bit useless at the moment, but the algorithm should be able to get updated and find out some really cool stuff in the future.

Agreed.

I'll think more of it when it can find terrorists and criminals instead of which gender you would have sex with.

There are about five or six programs that work fairly well to find Terrorists, but for the life of me I can't remember the name of them.

Then that just makes this program an even more useless.

The one I'm thinking of tracks known terrorists through credit cards and other such things. I really wish I could remember what it was called though. Sadly, I learned it in Sociology a year ago.

So gay men are more likely to friend gay men?
Wow, I wonder how long it took them to figure that out...

I don't use social sites anyway, so whatever.

Lol, it's funny because it probably doesn't work...

Overall its a pretty interesting system and shows just how unsecure data is on the internet although I guess it would sometimes give false positives.
It would be interesting to see how far they can go with this system.

Lauren Admire:
Algorithm "Outs" Facebook Users

image

A new algorithm released by MIT students can determine the sexual orientation of a person just by analyzing the sexual preferences of their friend networks.

It didn't begin as an insidious way to publicly out Facebook friends. The pair of MIT students who designed the algorithm did so for a class that was focused on ethics and law on the internet. The assignment was simple enough: Exactly how much information do we unwittingly reveal about ourselves when we friend people, "Like" certain topics, or become a fan of certain things?

The answer is: A lot more than you realized.

According to an analysis of friends networks on Facebook, students found that gay men had more gay friends than straight friends. Using that logic, a pair of MIT students created an algorithm that essentially "outs" people just by analyzing the breakup of their friends networks. Early tests of the equation successfully "outed" several gay people, just by analyzing the sexual preferences of their personal networks of friends. However, this same algorithm only worked to identify gay men; lesbians and bisexual men or women were not as easily outed.

"When they first did it, it was absolutely striking - we said, 'Oh my God - you can actually put some computation behind that,'" states Hal Aberson, a computer science professor at MIT. "That 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."

The project focused on the "homophily principle," basically the fact that like attracts like. If you're into dogs, you're more likely to friend people who also like dogs. If you're gay, you're more likely to hang out with people who are also gay. Using this basic principle, researchers are able to pick out a person's political affiliation, gender and even what breed of dog they prefer.

This really puts a new spin on internet privacy. It's not as easy as removing or hiding personal information on Facebook or Twitter. We can reveal truly personal information just by the internet crowd we pal around with.

Source: Boston Globe, via Popular Science

(Image)

Permalink

Doesn't work.

Kurokami:

Doesn't work.

I'm sure you would know, right?

I'd really like them to make this public, I would love to see what it says about me

EDIT: nevermind, it only tries to determine sexual orientation. Come back when it does something cool/determines more than one thing.

YAY! Finally the self-inflicted Big Brother thing is coming to fruition. I hope people start to realize what they are unwittingly making public knowledge. Maybe this will be the first step to people understanding that by making a facebook, myspace, twitter account you are essentially letting anyone (the government) know what you are doing and what you are thinking.

Jiraiya72:

Kurokami:

Doesn't work.

I'm sure you would know, right?

Yup, pretty much.

Poomanchu745:
YAY! Finally the self-inflicted Big Brother thing is coming to fruition. I hope people start to realize what they are unwittingly making public knowledge. Maybe this will be the first step to people understanding that by making a facebook, myspace, twitter account you are essentially letting anyone (the government) know what you are doing and what you are thinking.

The bigger concern isn't that the government will have this knowledge, but that advertising firms will; the government can do little in the face of our corporate run technology age when it comes to information control.

Yeah, this is really going to improve our lives...How..?

So what if you can calculate someone's orientation? It will never ever be that simple, I suppose they just state the blatently obvious when you joined the Pink Parade Fanboi page.

Cure some diseases!!

Mr. Mike:
I'm not even saddened by how completely unnecessary this is. I'm just impressed.

Indeed. I don't think people really understand the depth of this. It is a computer code, something which is faaaar from being able to even understand sexuality, that is capable of compiling information on sexuality. Sure it is useless, sure it is unnecessary and sure it likely has to have a shit load of data to be able to be accurate... more then enough a human would of made the conclusion half way through.

But damn it... it is a bit of code that does that. That is impressive.

So we now have a working technological program of the 'Gaydar' that homosexual men are stereotypically known to possess?

Lauren Admire:

The project focused on the "homophily principle," basically the fact that like attracts like.

I think this is missing out on a huge obvious arrow.

Gay men "tend" to be more promiscuous(because they're men, rather than their sexuality), so most of the "friends" will be ...I hate to say it...booty calls. So it's many/many.

With a m/f relationship, it's either one/one because of jealousy, or one/many.

So, if your friends are all people you fancy...you're probably gay. (Correlation, not causation)

Also if you're into cats and a male, it flags you as gay instantly. As it should.
Seriously though since when do MIT students make algorithms for the GOP?

people with similar interest tend to become fond of each other and become friends?

stop the f*cking presses.

The DSM:
I knew joining the "I like men with hairy bums" group would come back to bite me on the arse someday...

I dont even use any Social networking anyway, the only site is use often are The Escapist and Youtube.

I'm sure you did what your avatar is doing after you had read that article...

as for this whole thing? Rubbish. Open to abuse. Useless.

Wow. And I suppose the fact that I am utterly straight (ish), but last time I checked had more than 60% gay or bisexual friends, would mean I'm actually in the closet?

Man, this study must know me better than I know myself.

Either that or it's utter bullcrap.

DividedUnity:
And now over to the news room. Instead of developing technologies that could benifit mankind like medical equipment weve discovered how to find gays on facebook.

Seriously, what the hell. Fair play to them for figuring out how to alienate people even further.

This article reminds me of a Family Guy episode.

"If you try to take a blood sample and dangerous acid squirts out instead. Youve got a gay"
I quoted that because there are easier ways to find out if people are gay. Ask them

This is like saying weve developed a system to find out if someone is gay or not based on the bars they go to. Weve found that males who attend male strip clubs are fairly certain to be gay.

Thanks for that insight science. Now go cure cancer already

Hmm... nicely put. And kudos for the Family Guy quote.

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