NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you're predisposed to "liking" a lot of things on Facebook (FB), watch out: You could be opening the vault for anyone to take a look, figure out your interests and act accordingly.
By "act accordingly," that could mean you'll soon be inundated with unwanted direct marketing offers, including product and political ads geared to your "Likes." Or it could mean identity thieves gathering data on your personal interests and possibly using it to compromise your credit card or bank account.
Sounds like a bit much?
Not really -- not after research from the University of Cambridge says that virtually anyone can compromise your personal privacy by engaging in what researchers call "innocuous digital behavior" resulting in "high levels of accuracy" by online foragers.The Cambridge data focus on those ubiquitous Facebook likes -- information widely available to anyone who wants it. Through "automatic analysis of Facebook likes," con artists, marketers or any stranger can accurately assess your race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, likelihood of substance use and political views. Cambridge researchers say it is easy to gather highly sensitive information that can be used against you. The study tracked 58,000 U.S. Facebook users and focused on their likes, demographic profiles and personality traits revealed on the popular social networking website. Cambridge analysts fed the data accumulated into algorithms, with surprising results. The models were:
- 88% accurate in determining male sexuality.
- 95% accurate in distinguishing white Americans from black Americans.
- 85% accurate in distinguishing Republicans from Democrats.
- 82% accurate in separating Christians from Muslims.
- And had up to a 73% accuracy rate in figuring out relationship status and substance abuse.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV