Facebook Finds Dallas-Fort Worth Users Predictable

Sunday’s Boston Globe has an article discussing “Project Gaydar,” in which two MIT students used data from Facebook pages to predict sexual orientation. As the author says “The idea of making assumptions about people by looking at their relationships is not new, but the sudden availability of information online means the field’s powerful tools can now be applied to just about anyone.”

The piece also mentions a project by a local professor:

For example, Murat Kantarcioglu, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Dallas, found he could make decent predictions about a person’s political affiliation. He and a student – who later went to work for Facebook – took 167,000 profiles and 3 million links between people from the Dallas-Fort Worth network. They used three methods to predict a person’s political views. One prediction model used only the details in their profiles. Another used only friendship links. And the third combined the two sets of data.

The researchers found that certain traits, such as knowing what groups people belonged to or their favorite music, were quite predictive of political affiliation. But they also found that they did better than a random guess when only using friendship connections. The best results came from combining the two approaches.

So what does this Facebook photo tell us?

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