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SAN FRANCISCO – Researchers have been able to glean just about anything from Facebook users’ “like” facility. They can predict, with remarkable accuracy, everything from their race to sexual orientation, political affiliation and personality type.

Researchers studied more than 58,000 people who had volunteered to participate in the “myPersonality” application on Facebook, in which subscribers allowed access to their list of “likes”, as well as the results of online personality tests.

Feeding people’s “likes” into an algorithm, information hidden in the lists of favourites, predicted whether someone was white or African American with 95 percent accuracy, whether they were a gay male with 88 percent accuracy, and even identified participants as a Democrat or Republican with 85 percent accuracy.

The “likes” list predicted gender with 93 percent accuracy and age could be determined 75 percent of the time.

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