Social media can learn about you even if you don’t post anything

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Are you tired of social media? Have you decided to stay away from posts and stories and live your life off the grid? It turns out you don’t have to exist on social media for social networks to learn about you. Your friends can do all the dirty work!

According to new study researchers from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide found that they could predict a person’s posts on social media with 95% accuracy, even if they never had an account!

The researchers gathered all the information they needed from a person’s friends, using posts from less than 10 contacts to build an image of a person who doesn’t even have a profile on social media networks. The specific study was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, looked at more than 30 million tweets from 14,000 accounts. By using machine learning they accurately predict what a person would post based on what their contacts have posted. So, even if you never had a profile on Facebook or Twitter, it takes a handful of your friends to build a profile on your interests and personality on social media.

Jim Bagrow, a professor from University of Vermont, said in a statement:

“You alone don’t control your privacy on social media platforms. Your friends have a say too.”

It looks that the time is perfect for this research to come out regarding the latest issues with privacy, especially for Facebook. The new research shows that even if you delete your social media accounts (i have done it twice but came back), social media networks can create profiles for you. Privacy advocates call this “shadow profiles” and they believe that Facebook uses this tactic. And back in April of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg informed lawmakers that Facebook collected data on nonusers for “security purposes.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company doesn’t build profiles on nonusers, even if it’s collecting data on them.

“If you aren’t a Facebook user, we can’t identify you based on this information, or use it to learn who you are.”.

There are many cases over the last year, that showed that your friend’s list is mainly a reason for various data leaks. For example in Australia, only 53 people actually clicked on the This is Your Digital Life app, but it harvested data on 310,000 friends through that initial contact. And the same happened with Facebook’s massive breach affecting 29 million people.

And we can say that you are a careful online user but if your friends don’t have concerns about their privacy that may affect yours. The most important finding of the study is this phrase: “There’s no place to hide in a social network.”

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Author: Martha Papadimitriou

Martha is a journalist, a blog writer, a mother and a bookworm. She studied Journalism and Communication and graduated in 2002. She has a restless spirit and loves to learn new things. Martha also wants to make the world a better place, and when she is not working she enjoys reading and cooking.

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