Your 'Likes' Lead to Snap Judgments, False Assumptions
Much of our online behavior leaves a trail. Sometimes we are aware of it; sometimes we aren't. "Liking" on Facebook (or "+1-ing" on Google+, and all the other clickable options allowing you to show your appreciation for posts) may be one such behavior done with reckless abandon. Often a user will "Like" something only because a friend asked him or her to. These users may not be aware of the picture those "Likes" can paint.
The Wall Street Journal has written a fantastic article that may change mindless "Liking" behavior somewhat. The article highlights a recent study that revealed our "Likes" provide an incredible amount of insight into our private lives. Individually, the "Likes" may not reveal much; but monitored and analyzed overtime, they can shed light on very personal, private details. One example:
The researchers found that "Likes" for Austin, Texas; "Big Momma" movies; and the statement "Relationships Should Be Between Two People Not the Whole Universe" were among a set of 10 choices that, combined, predicted drug use.
Whoa. How's that for crazy assumptions? Or scarier, how's that for accuracy? You can bet this research is only the beginning and that the algorithms these researchers used are soon to be commercialized and sold to any number of entities... with any number of intentions.
The takeaway for now? Watch what you "Like," and keep up-to-date on the privacy settings that can prevent others from tracking your online trail.
If you use the Chrome browser, you can go "incognito" and hide many of your online activity trails automatically collected. To do this, press <CTRL><SHIFT><N>. See this Google resource for more information.