Ah, another day, another step closer to the internet completely and utterly pwning your humanity.
A new research study authored by a Cornell University computer scientist and a Facebook engineer released Sunday reveals that Facebook doesn’t just know your name, birthday, likes, friends, coworkers, habits, purchases, social security number and whether you pee in the shower, but it can also predict who you’re in a romantic relationship with (without peeking) and whether your lil’ networking heart might be broken in two months’ time.
Using data from 1.3 million randomly selected Facebook users who listed themselves as being in a relationship on their profiles, the research duo developed an algorithm based on connectedness between sets of mutual friends. They found that embeddedness, which is when two people share a lot of mutual friends, wasn’t very helpful in predicting whether two people were in a romantic relationship.
The better indicator for romantic relationships was, in fact, dispersion, which is when a couple has spheres of Facebook friends that are not well connected – like if your wife introduced you to her Hobby Lobby meet-up group of friends, and you introduced your wife to, well, any group of your guy friends that have lives. The two groups are just not likely to be connected, and thus, the algorithm knows that you two are dating (I’m sorry for that) because of that high dispersion rate.
Based on their dispersion measurement, the researchers’ algorithm was able to identify a user’s romantic partner with a better-than-chance probability (60 percent for spouses, 33 percent for those “in a relationship”). More interestingly, the researchers found that those users who were in a relationship but did not have a high dispersion rate are 50 percent more likely to break up in two months’ time. So in other words, you know those mutual friends both of you guys really, really like? Ditch them all and move to a remote Utahan valley, or else one of you will end up bonking one of those friends and then ka-put.
So what’s the point of the study? Lars Backstrom, a Facebook data scientist said, “If we can do a better job of identifying all the most important people in your life, there is a lot of opportunity to make Facebook better.” In other words, Facebook is going to data-mine the f**k out of you to make a lot of money. Cheers, ol’ Zucky buddy.
Here are other things Facebook knows about you: