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Why Your Social Media Friends Reveal More About You Than You May Think

23 Jan 2019 12:35 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

Phycology Today published an article a few years back on, "Facebook Personalities. Which One Are You?" In the article the author identifies the following personality types:Voyeurs, Informers, Me Mees and Evangelists. This study was based on what people posted and the frequency of posts. It did not include comments made on friend's posts, what they "liked" or how many friends they had. While this study is certainly a glimpse of human behavior, I would go one step further to say that a person's friend list can be even more revealing. Many times this reveals much more than most people think it does.

In fact, a new study from researchers at the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide found that they could predict a  person's posts on social media with 95 percent accuracy -- even if they never had an account to begin with. When you think about it, it makes sense. No one ever asks you whether or not you posted anything about them in social media; they just post.

But, let's dig even deeper. If a friend of yours uses an app in Facebook that allows them to upload their contact list, then your data may be part of that upload, even if you don't have a profile. So there are some real privacy concerns within the social network, as we have seen in the media last year. The loopholes have allowed for a lot of social media targeting for marketing and advertising purposes. This is something that we hear about all the time and most people understand they are going to see sponsored content based on their profile demographics. This is why consumers don't pay for subscriptions. We get that.

However, we are getting to a point where more and more people are searching Facebook to learn more about a new neighbor, a volunteer, a potential employee or someone you just started to date. To make it more interesting, let's use the dating scenario. If I were single and began dating someone, I would look them up in social media. Not only would I look at his profile, I would also take a good look at who his friends are. Many times who you hang out with in your free time says a lot about you. Do you enjoy heavy drinking every weekend? Are you religious? Are you a Democrat or Republican? What do they stand for? You get the idea! We have all become very good at "stalking".

Social media investigations have become very important in tracking down criminals of all kinds over the years. With the help of robust software platforms, one can identify a lot about a person and even zero in on their whereabouts.

On the flip side, criminals can steal your online identity as well. Entrepreneur magazine just published, "Why Googling Yourself Is Not Just for Fun Anymore." It reveals some startling statistics:

"There are real-world consequences to what’s out there about you online, even if you had nothing to do with it. It may surprise you to learn:

33 percent of Google search results are influenced by other individuals of the same name

20 percent of people find outdated or flat out inaccurate information

12 percent are “unpleasantly surprised” by what they find, though it may not be necessarily incorrect

8 percent unfortunately find embarrassing or reputation damaging information"

So reputation management is not just for business anymore. We must all take an active role in our own reputation management. Have you ever had online identity theft? Do you Google yourself on a regular basis?

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