Facebook 'Likes' can reveal sexual orientation, intelligence, study says

A Facebook Inc. social media logo and a A Facebook Inc. social media logo and a "Like" icon stand on display during a news conference at the Armani Hotel to announce the opening of a Facebook office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (May 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Bloomberg News

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Digital sleuths can forecast a person's sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious views and illicit drug use simply by analyzing their Facebook "Likes," according to a new study.

The research by scientists at the University of Cambridge and Microsoft Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found that their mathematical model correctly labeled men as heterosexual or homosexual 88 percent of the time and Democrat or Republican in 85 percent of the cases.

Women's sexual orientation was tougher to pin down, with only 75 percent accuracy, researchers found.

The research was conducted by studying 58,000 volunteers, who took psychometric tests and provided their Facebook "likes" and detailed demographic profiles.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, who attended Ardsley High School and grew up in Dobbs Ferry. A Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, publisher of The New Republic, has a Putnam County home with his husband, Sean Eldridge, president of venture capital firm Hudson River Ventures.

Researchers found that those with high intelligence were likely to "Like" "Thunderstorms," "The Colbert Report," "Science" and "Curly Fries."

Low intelligence was correlated with "Sephora," "I Love Being a Mom," "Harley-Davidson" and "Lady Antebellum," according to the study.

"Good predictors of male homosexuality included 'No H8 Campaign,' 'Mac Cosmetics' and 'Wicked The Musical,' whereas strong predictors of male heterosexuality included 'Wu-Tang Clan,' 'Shaq' and 'Being Confused After Waking Up From Naps,'" the study said.

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