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Does the Internet know you better than your spouse does? Research says yes


We’ve always known our Internet history gives a disturbing insight into our shopping habits and even what advertisers think we will like (note Google: stop showing me ads for baby clothes).

Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have shown the Internet knows us even better than our own partner.

They conducted experiments that show computer algorithms can correctly identify what psychologists called the ‘Big Five’ parts of our personality by studying our Internet history.

The ‘Big Five’ are: how open we are to new experiences; how conscientious we are; how extroverted we are; how agreeable we are; and how neurotic we are (hands up here!).

Using data from 70,000 Facebook users, the researchers trawled through the participants’ online accounts looking for ‘likes’ that are often associated with characteristics in each of the five dimensions (for example, extroverts often click on activities like ‘partying’ or ‘dancing’).

Even with as few as 10 of a user’s ‘likes’ to analyse, the algorithm was able to judge that person’s personality on the same level as a co-worker. With 70 likes, it was as accurate as a close friend would be.

And with 300, the algorithm was more successful than the person’s spouse.

Guess computers really are the new man’s best friend.

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