The key surprise that duped all of us was that our innocuous use of clicking on Like was Facebook’s secret way of getting us to expose everything about ourselves. A research paper showed how an evaluation of Likes was able to accurately predict numerous aspects of each Facebook user:
The paper showed that a factor model made with users’ Facebook “likes” alone was 95 percent accurate at distinguishing between black and white respondents, 93 percent accurate at distinguishing men from women, and 88 percent accurate at distinguishing people who identified as gay men from men who identified as straight. It could even correctly distinguish Republicans from Democrats 85 percent of the time. It was also useful, though not as accurate, for predicting users’ scores on the “Big Five” personality test.
Facebook relies on numerous psychological techniques to trick users into revealing data about themselves. Facebook specifically tricked users into giving up information they never intended to give up.
Not surprisingly, those who now realized they were duped by Facebook are quite angry about Facebook.
Reading yesterday’s memo from Andrew Bosworth, in favor of killing people and terrorism to push profits at Facebook made me experience actual feelings of illness. Yes, at this point, just thinking about Facebook becomes a trigger for feeling ill. This will surely be a fascinating case study about (in)effective branding in future business school classes. Zuckerberg will forever be remembered as a snake oil carnival barker scam artist.