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Study reveals how social media learns information about you even if you DON'T have an account

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posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 06:02 PM
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I had to truncate the title because the original one was too long and ATS wouldn't allow me to post this.


By Reuters and Annie Palmer For Dailymail.com

Published: 14:01 EST, 21 January 2019 | Updated: 16:14 EST, 21 January 2019

A new study has found that social media sites including Facebook and Twitter can learn a shocking amount of information about users, even if they don't have an account.

Researchers from the University of Vermont discovered that these platforms only need access to eight of your one-time contacts in order to infer information about you.

It comes as Silicon Valley giants face increased scrutiny about their data collection practices and whether users have enough control over their private information.
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www.dailymail.co.uk...

Below is an excerpt and link to the study.


Information flow reveals prediction limits in online social activity

James P. Bagrow ^12* Xipei Liu ^12 and Lewis Mitchell ^123*

Modern society depends on the flow of information over online social networks, and users of popular platforms generate substantial behavioural data about themselves and their social ties 1–5. However, it remains unclear what fundamental limits exist when using these data to predict the activities and interests of individuals, and to what accuracy such predictions can be made using an individual’s social ties. Here, we show that 95% of the potential predictive accuracy for an individual is achievable using their social ties only, without requiring that individuals data. We used information theoretic tools to estimate the predictive information in the writings of Twitter users, providing an upper bound on the available predictive information that holds for any predictive or machine learning methods. As few as 8–9 of an individual’s contacts are sufficient to obtain predictability compared with that of the individual alone. Distinct temporal and social effects are visible by measuring information flow along social ties, allowing
us to better study the dynamics of online activity. Our results have distinct privacy implications: information is so strongly embedded in a social network that, in principle, one can profile an individual from their available social ties even when the individual forgoes the platform completely.
...

Informati on flow reveals prediction limits in online social activity

So here is evidence that even if you don't have a social media account anywhere, liberal social media giants can use the data from acquaintances, friends, or family to whom people are tied to, and still "95% of the potential predictive accuracy for an individual is achievable using their social ties only."

So, having no social media accounts doesn't stop the liberal social media giants from finding information about anyone.



edit on 21-1-2019 by ElectricUniverse because: correct comment.




posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 06:03 PM
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a reply to: ElectricUniverse

I'm not even touching my Facebook page and information is leaking into my mind!



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 08:47 PM
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You would think more people would be interested in this.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 08:55 PM
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a reply to: ElectricUniverse

It's so much worse when you join. Not only will you enter your own data but pics and vids with others. Plus, friend searches, etc.



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 09:09 PM
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originally posted by: ElectricUniverse
You would think more people would be interested in this.


I am interested in this topic, just don’t have much more to add to the information already posted.
I’ve suspected as much for years , so thanks for confirming my paranoia.😏



posted on Jan, 21 2019 @ 09:32 PM
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originally posted by: toms54
a reply to: ElectricUniverse

It's so much worse when you join. Not only will you enter your own data but pics and vids with others. Plus, friend searches, etc.


What if you had/have a childhood friend, or relative, who committed a crime? Without your input you could be branded as a criminal by association.

This is really bad either way.



posted on Jan, 22 2019 @ 07:41 AM
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This is pretty alarming... maybe not surprising. I have no social media accounts - no facebook, no twitter, etc. I'm introverted offline as well as online so social media never appealed to me.
I was hoping that having no social media presence would protect my privacy as an added bonus. I guess not so much...

But, what exactly are the predicting with 95% accuracy? A 95% predictive accuracy using social ties.... well, predicting what, exactly? My age/race/gender/religion? My political afflictions, or lack thereof? The article says "activities and interests" but that is pretty vague, and it seems like there would be much easier/accurate/more direct ways to obtain that data (like google search history etc.)

Privacy is truly an illusion, even for people that keep themselves fairly private.



posted on Jan, 22 2019 @ 08:12 AM
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originally posted by: ElectricUniverse
So here is evidence that even if you don't have a social media account anywhere, liberal social media giants can use the data from acquaintances, friends, or family to whom people are tied to, and still "95% of the potential predictive accuracy for an individual is achievable using their social ties only."
Maybe you can see the evidence, but I get a paywall that would cost me $8.99 to read the article so personally I can't see the evidence.

I have no doubt that having a social media account reveals far more information than some people realize, however I don't even understand some of the terminology in the abstract so I don't really know what it means, and I don't take their conclusions at face value without knowing that. For example I don't know details of the "information theoretic tools to estimate the predictive information in the writings of Twitter users".

It's not clear if they used these tools to infer information about people who did have accounts without looking at their accounts (that would seem to contradict the abstract). Or if they did that only for users who didn't have accounts, how then were they able to verify the predictive accuracy? What are the exact details of the "information theoretic tools?" Is all just simulations or did they verify the simulations with some real users who didn't have accounts and if so exactly how did they do that? And exactly what kind of "predictive information" was generated? That term is so vague that I don't appreciate the relevance without seeing some kind of examples of the types of information they generated.

I'm a bit curious, but not curious enough to shell out $8.99 only to possibly find I'm not happy with their investigative methods. Maybe experts in this field know exactly what they are talking about with these terms but I'm afraid terms like "information theoretic tools" and "predictive information" seem rather vague to me so I don't really understand their claims in a meaningful way.




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