â€œLikesâ€ on Facebook tell your friends what you, well, like. But they may also tell people things that you might not like them to know, such as your sexual orientation, political views, alcohol and drug habits, and even how smart you really are.
In a study published in the March 11, 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Cambridge University and Microsoft probed the likes of more than 50,000 Facebook users and found that they revealed information about a wide range of personal attributes that most people would think are private. A user who likes â€œDear Liver Thanks Youâ€™re a Champâ€ is not being coy about his appreciation of booze, but a thumbs-up on â€œWatching Karma Bite The Person You Hate Right In The Assâ€ is also associated with alcohol consumption. On the other hand, liking â€œWhy Is Monday So Far Away From Friday And Friday So Bloody Close To Mondayâ€ is associated with Facebookers who donâ€™t drink. Smokers like â€œUnder Armourâ€ whereas non-smokers like â€œHonda.â€
The researchers found that likes also correlate with personality attributes. Extraverted folks like â€œBeerpong,â€ whereas introverts like â€œProgramming.â€ People who enjoy â€œCurly Fries,â€ â€œThunderstorms,â€ and â€œMorgan Freemans Voice [sic]â€ also tend to have high IQs. The researchers predict that ever more subtly revealing digital correlations will become much easier to discern, prompting them to worry that in the future â€œsuch predictions, even if incorrect, could pose a threat to an individualâ€™s well-being, freedom, or even life.â€