June 20, 2014
What Your Facebook Wall Says About You
It’s been said that the greatest weapon one can possess is the tongue. Whether for good or for ill, the words you chose can make a profound impact on those around you … and the Internet is no exception. Think your posts on Facebook don’t give any insight into who you really are? Think again. A new startup based out of Berkley called Five Labs recently developed an application that draws from all of the various posts you’ve made on your Facebook wall and analyzes the language to make predictions about your personality.
I’ve always found these tests kind of weird, since you’re essentially telling someone else to tell you who you are. Save the occasional small surprise (which many people just chalk up to error anyway), it’s really just seeing how accurate of a guess the computer can make. I don’t know of many people who legitimately took the test wondering, “Gee, I honestly couldn’t say what kind of person I am. I wonder if this application will bring me to a self-reflective revelation. Tell me, oh gods of the Internet … WHO AM I?” In many cases, I’d guess people venture to sites like that out of a sense of disbelief, merely to test whether or not the website’s claim holds true. Can this linguistic algorithm compiler figure out what kind of a person I am based solely on my social media sites?
The true insight this website will lend, however, is to show you exactly what kind of hits your social media profile is going to make when put up against automatic analyses, the kind of thing that are often used to determine what advertisements get sent your way. Most Facebook ads are based on a similar kind of compilation algorithm, and this is probably the first time that we get to pull back the curtain and stare into the face of the proverbial Oz. Using both obvious tags one might leave, such as when I mention “Paizo,” “Pathfinder,” or perhaps “Super Smash Brothers” (often in excited capitals), as well as the patterns of speech you prefer, this website breaks down your posts to reveal your tendencies on five axes: agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness. When you’re done, you get a neat little graph as well as the option to compare yourself to a bunch of famous people. Are you more agreeable than George R.R. Martin? Are you as extraverted as Jennifer Lawrence?
Still, even though you’re not likely to stumble upon any deep, dark secret you weren’t aware of, there is a sense of profound amusement (or terror) in the results. I found that mine were fairly accurate: inventive, restless, reserved, analytical, efficient. That last one threw me a little bit, but I suppose I can be efficient when I really put my mind to it. In light of other recent (alleged) computational achievements, it really is interesting to see how close Five Labs can get. If nothing else, it’s good for a smile … or, if you’re a Big Brother/SkyNet doomsayer, yet one more reason to curl up in a corner and cry yourself to sleep.
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