Apparently You Can Learn A Lot About Someone From Their Facebook Likes

The seemingly diverse and random things we like on Facebook, from hard rock bands to politicians to “napping,” might be giving away a lot more information about us than we realize. Researchers at Cambridge University were able to accurately predict people’s gender, race, sexual orientation, and age based on Facebook likes alone. Some of the findings are kind of obvious–people who like Barack Obama are usually liberal? You don’t say!–but other findings are much more interesting. Check out a few choice tidbits after the jump!

  • Male sexual orientation was more accurately detectable than women’s, which researchers say “may suggest a wider behavioral divide (as observed from online behavior) between hetero- and homosexual males.” Based on Facebook likes, researchers could predict with 88 percent accuracy whether a man was gay or straight, compared to 75 percent accuracy in women.
  • The most accurate prediction researchers could make was a person’s race (they could tell with 95 percent accuracy whether someone was Caucasian or African American), which indicates that we’re still segregating ourselves in our online activities, at least when it comes to our public interests and entertainment preferences.
  • High intelligence was linked with some predictable Facebook pages, such as “science,” but also some really, really random stuff; for example, people who like “curly fries” or “thunderstorms” tend to be smarter than average.
  • “Sephora” and “Harley Davidson” were two common likes that were tied with lower intelligence (bummer for makeup-obsessed bikers!).

[The Atlantic]