No Way Out With The In-Crowd

It sometimes appears that the world is divided into two groups: people who are on Facebook and those who are not. Many of the regular Facebook posters are not too concerned with their privacy. They are happy to share lots of their opinions and doings with the wider world.

At the same time, many people that I’ve spoken to say that they value their privacy too highly to share things casually and hence avoid Facebook with its temptation to bare all. But it now appears that not joining Facebook is no protection as the network engines have algorithms that can make pretty good forecasts about non-members who may be connected to members (1).

The authors considered the population of five large universities and trained their computer on their feature extraction methodology to connect the out-crowd to the in-crowd and set up people in their actual sets with reasonable accuracy.

So being a non-member of a social network doesn’t mean that your profile is missing from some predictive list that may help to target marketing of new must have products. That is relatively benign compared to the lists that you could be on if you happen to reside in country that takes a dim view of some political ties.


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