Do You Like Curly Fries? Then, You Must Be Smart.

Thunderstorms, Morgan Freeman’s voice and curly fries. Though very different from each other, each of these things have one thing in common. They are all indicators that someone has a high IQ according to a study for the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS).

In the study, Michal Kosinsk, David Stillwell and Thore Graepel took a sample of around 58,000 Facebook users and examined each user’s Facebook Likes. From examining these Likes, they went on to predict what kind of personal characteristics the users had. There were a wide variety of characteristics that these examiners were able to determine like substance use (cigarettes, alcohol and drugs), party affiliation and emotional stability to name a few.

So, how does liking the curly fry page show intelligence? Even though both matters aren’t related, one theory suggests that these two can be linked through homophily.  Homophily is when people look for friends who are like them and have the same interests. The theory suggests that one intelligent individual started the curly fry page, which was then liked by his or her smart Facebook friends until there was a population of smart people on the page.

“I’ve been able to build models that can predict all sorts of hidden attributes for all of you that you don’t even know you’re sharing information about,” said Jennifer Golbeck in a TED Talk, “As scientists, we use that to help the way people interact online, but there’s less altruistic applications.”

For example, Golbeck mentions she could start a business selling reports about your attributes to businesses that want to hire you, and there is nothing you could do about it since it is posted for everyone to see. Some of the information predicted may be information you may not want to share. So, there is an invasion of privacy in that sense.

Due to this invasion of privacy, it is important to be aware of the risks you are taking when you post or even like something on Facebook or any other kind of social media site. By knowing what the risks are, you can choose whether or not to share something online.

“If users don’t want me to use that data, I think they should have the right to do that,” said Jennifer Golbeck, “ I want users to be informed and consenting users of the tools that we develop.”

 

 

Here is a link to the PNAS study:

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.full.pdf?with-ds=yes

Here is a link to Jennifer Golbeck’s TED Talk:

 

Featured image of loaded curly fries provided by Arby’s website: http://arbys.com/our-menu/limited-time-offers/loaded-curly-fries

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