Social Media giant Facebook is trying to regain trust from it's users, after electoral consultancy and data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica were involved in a scandal over allegedly harvesting data supplied to it via the social media website. Cambridge Analytica has since been under more intense scrutiny, after high ranking executives reported to undercover reporters for Britain's Channel 4 News that they could use such methods as psychological manipulation, entrapment techniques and fake news campaigns to influence the outcomes of elections. This is worrying considering they were involved with the Trump online campaign.
However, where Facebook comes in is with their use of psychometric testing, specifically, what is called
"the big five personality test". The big five personality test is a personality test employed by psychologists, which measures five characteristics of your personality on a five point scale. The traits are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neurotic-ism. To put harvesting of this data into this perspective, a psychological study found that people trained in these tests could determine with reasonable accuracy
, these characteristics, with the exception of neurotic-ism, by observing a persons vacant room. For instance, people were more likely to have more decorations if they were extroverted, and people who knew the test could guess this by seeing a persons room. To read this article Click Here
. So when asking whether you should be comfortable sharing the results of such a test, ask if you'd let who you're sharing it with see the inside of your room. More worrying than this however, people who agreed to share this test information, also shared some of their friend's information.
Based on this initial test, other peoples pages could be analysed based on the test takers behaviour, for instance, Lady Gaga followers were likely to be extroverts, whilst "likers" of philosophy were more likely to be introverts. Beyond this, sexual orientation could be gleaned from a person's Facebook likes with reasonable accuracy.
This model was later used by Cambridge Analytica to support Leave.EU in their Brexit Campaign, and is believed to have had a role in Donald Trump's online portion of his election campaign.Some have even speculated this as a reason for his use of sometimes contradictory statements to voters, different messages for different voters. There are even reports of targeted Facebook posts which targeted users with specific profiles.
Most importantly, to check if your data has been shared with Cambridge Analytica, click here.
For a detailed timeline of the scandal, see the tabs below.