Use This Site to See Which of Your Facebook Friends Is Most Similar to You

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June 12 2014 10:21 AM

Use This Site to See Which of Your Facebook Friends Is Most Similar to You

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Words are great

Photo by Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Last year, a group of University of Pennsylvania researchers found an entirely different way to analyze human personality by analyzing Facebook status updates of 75,000 volunteers.

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Now there's an app that allows you to compare your Facebook personality with that of your friends and public figures.

Consumer technology company Five built the new app using an artificial intelligence method designed by H. Andrew Schwartz, the lead research of the groundbreaking study. The new project, Five Labs, predicts users’ personalities by pulling key words from wall posts and analyzing according to Schwartz's model.

"We trained the model by following a similar process of finding thousands of people to take personality tests while have their Facebook wall posts scanned," Five co-founder Nikita Bier told Business Insider. "Andy provided us detailed instructions on weighting each data point in the supervised learning model."

The results are endlessly fascinating.

You can see your personality profile based on the Big Five traits and find friends who are most like you:

fivelabs1

Five Labs

And then see the comparison:

fivelabs2

Five Labs

Here's my comparison to Bill Gates:

fivelabs3

Five Labs

And here is how I match up to my twin brother:

fivelabs4

Five Labs

The Penn study used an “open-vocabulary approach” of analyzing all words to predict the Big Five personality traits of extraversion, openness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.

The resulting word clouds allowed the researchers to generate new insights into relationships between traits and language used.

fivelabs5

University of Pennsylvania

Bier says that the new app is "meant to hold a mirror to the growing trend of social applications mining data from user content."

Facebook and Google are both investing in research labs to mine their immense stores of social data. Mark Zuckerberg, "The goal [of the Facebook research lab] is … to understand how everything on Facebook is connected by understanding what the posts that people write mean.”

While tech giants and Five Labs are mining user data for relevant psychological insights, Five Labs never stores the information. Nevertheless, Bier notes the societal implications of this kind of insight.

"Over the last few weeks, many academics and reporters have talked about how companies can now infer a great deal of information about users, especially with advances in machine-learning tools (Columbia.edu, Washington Post, NYT, NYT Bits blog). This raises new concerns around consumer privacy," Bier told Business Insider. "In the case of our app, we chose the Big Five traits because it has been shown to be very predictive of real-life outcomes. I don't think we'll ever be at a point where our personality data will be used for determining car insurance premiums, but it could very well be used to target ads (and, most likely, is already in the works)."

Bier says that the Five Labs app is meant to provide personality snapshots that are fun as well as educational.

"People need to ask themselves a profound question: ‘How does my data portray me on public networks—and how might that be used?’”

Michael Kelley is a reporter at Business Insider. Follow him on Twitter.

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