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social networks

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Gaydar - MIT Social Network Mining Predicts Sexuality

Using data from the social network Facebook, they made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay. They did this with a software program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a person’s friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction. The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions, but based on their own knowledge outside the Facebook world, their computer program appeared quite accurate for men, they said. People may be effectively “outing” themselves just by the virtual company they keep.

This sort of data mining is becoming increasingly popular and the spread of social networks means we give more and more about ourselves away either knowingly or unknowingly. I had not even considered the power to profile people in various ways without even looking at the contents of their profile but simply looking at their friends. Of course, the best results were a hybrid of the two methods, but still, the predictive power of such a thing is a marketer/government's dream and someone concerned with privacy's nightmare. Now, for most things there are simple recommendations for how you conduct yourself online that can help protect you, but this one I cannot really think of one. Does anyone have idea?

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