Likes On Facebook Can Inadvertently Reveal Gender, Sexual Preference and More

Like 'The Colbert Report'? You're probably intelligent.

What you "Like" on Facebook could reveal more than just your preference for that thing. Researchers found that Facebook "Likes" can show a user's marital status, religion, drug use, parental separation, age, gender and sexual orientation, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers at Cambridge University compared the "likes" of 58,000 volunteers with the results of personality, intelligence and other tests they took. What they found was that the "Likes" could predict the results of the tests and other personal information. For example, researchers said, the best predictors of high intelligence were people who had "Likes" such as "The Colbert Report", "Thunderstorms" and "Curly Fries."

Whether that much information is a good thing is debatable: the researchers pointed out that it can be used to better tailor marketing and products to the correct demographics. Jeffrey Chester, a privacy activist at the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C, however, told the Wall Street Journal that the research should "set off alarm bells."

Are you alarmed by how much "Likes" can tell about you? Or is that kind of an obvious conclusion? Tell us in the comments.

[Photo by Flickr user afagen]

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