Sunday, January 03, 2010


Social networks have become prevalent - there is one for every purpose, career, travel, books etc. People are spending a lot of time on it, sharing minute details of their lives on it. So I had a question : Can the information that is shared by a person on social networking sites be used to infer that person's personality. Specifically, can the photographs that a person shares on such sites be used. The profile pic is probably the first one anyone intending to do such an analysis could look at. Follow that up with the photos one posts, looking for specifics like : how many have people in it, how many are of family, how many have that person itself, what is the mood of that person in the photograph, what activity does it show the person doing?

Can one draw an inference like : X's photos always have X. So, X is a very gregarious person. But X's photos do not have family. So X guards his/her privacy when it comes to friends and relatives.

Maybe something else like: Y's photographs do not show him/her, therefore "place some inference about Y".

Or something rather obvious: Z's photos show Z in lots of outdoor activity. Z likes adventure.

I bet such a study has already been done or is in progress in some psychology/sociology department in some university. The question is how could such information about us be used for/against us. The most obvious being targeted ads. But as a revenue model, that is so passe. Something's gotta give and something is definitely in store for us. Sooner rather than later.

1 comment:

Vivek Venugopal B said...

There are quite a few assumptions here.
1) all that is put on the web is true
2) that no group dynamics influence the person
3) posting photos online could be something like 1% of the total activities the person is involved in

There could be more like this.