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MIT Project "Gaydar" Shakes Privacy Assumptions

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the it's-who-you-know dept.

Privacy 508

theodp writes "At MIT, an experiment that identifies which students are gay is raising new questions about online privacy. Using data from Facebook, two students in an MIT class on ethics and law on the electronic frontier made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person's online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay. The project, given the name 'Gaydar' by the students, is part of the fast-moving field of social network analysis, which examines what the connections between people can tell us, from predicting who might be a terrorist to the likelihood a person is happy, fat, liberal, or conservative." MIT professor Hal Abelson, who co-taught the course, is quoted: "That pulls the rug out from a whole policy and technology perspective that the point is to give you control over your information — because you don't have control over your information."

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Anonymous Cowards are not gay. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484173)

Anonymous Cowards are gay.

Re:Anonymous Cowards are not gay. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484239)

The prison niggers resemble that remark and want to instead come to a peaceiful resitution. We would prefer to rape some slashdot nerds in the asshole while they play their wow of warcraft. Big Tyrone hasn't taken a slashdot nerd in 3 days, da last bein' Abreu in Mexico. Man was he a spicy motherfucker. We took him and his beaner wife for 60 hours straight. Dun worry we bought them tacos an' shit. Too bad tyrone had to kick in his teeth to get a better blo' job but thats how tha prison niggers work. To bad you be a anonymus coward cause i wood say call us at 212-534-4785. We'll come by yo place as an' be sure to bring yo tears.

- The Prison Niggers

cotton niggers, sand niggers, rice niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484599)

kill all niggers

Re:Anonymous Cowards are not gay. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484249)

This technology could be quite useful. We should use it to implement a "fag drag" program so we can get rid of the degenerates.

I beg to differ (4, Insightful)

laron (102608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484179)

"That pulls the rug out from a whole policy and technology perspective that the point is to give you control over your information -- because you don't have control over your information."

I have control over my information. And that is why you wont find be on Facebook.

Re:I beg to differ (1, Insightful)

laron (102608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484213)

Arg. Find me on FB...

Re:I beg to differ (1, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484383)

I have control over my information. And that is why you wont find be on Facebook.

How about your friends?

Re:I beg to differ (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484433)

There aren't any, and that's how I want it to be :-)

Re:I beg to differ (1)

laron (102608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484465)

How would you know who my friends are? If you know me well enough in meatspace to know my friends, chances are that you know my sexual orientation.

Re:I beg to differ (4, Insightful)

sabernet (751826) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484511)

But your friends know you. And they may, in fact, be posting information about you. Everything from tagging pictures to leaving notes. You have no control over this.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

laron (102608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484601)

Can you actually tag pictures of non-users and if yes would that be searchable? I assumed that a tag is basically a link to another user's page.

Re:I beg to differ (4, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484651)

But your friends know you. And they may, in fact, be posting information about you. Everything from tagging pictures to leaving notes. You have no control over this.

That's true to a point. But on some level that's not 'your information' that's others information about you. You couldn't stop your friends from outing you as gay or communist or vegetarian in the 60s and you can't today. Facebook isn't really a factor.

However, in terms of data mining and automated profiling etc its worse if you have a facebook account than if you don't. If someone tags a non-FB member its just a name attached to a photo. It doesn't really go anywhere. Its true that someone could see it or read a note mentioning you and connect it to you, or do sophisticated data mining to link all those references together and assemble a profile... but if you tag someone who is a fb member (the way they want you to) it creates a link back to that account, making it utterly TRIVIAL to connect it back to you.

I'm not on facebook. So while there may be some pictures on it with my name tagged to them, its not really any worse than the web in general. My name/photo is together in a few places online, but they aren't all linked together back to a single 'account' somewhere. If there are tagged photos of me on fb its the same, they are their but all disconnected. If you have a facebook account they'd all link back to that.

My 'privacy' isn't absolute. I don't expect it to be impossible for people find stuff about me online. But I do object strongly to stuff like facebook where a single company is handed tons of data self-documented by its own users... its idiotic that anyone would participate.

Solution (4, Funny)

kk49 (829669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484181)

Friend Everyone...

Re:Solution (3, Funny)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484261)

Friend Everyone...

At best that will categorise you as 'angsty teenager'.

At worst, as 'All things to all men - especially those free and easy men at MIT'.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484721)

You have been pink slipped... account deactivated!

What have they taken? (1)

Revenger75 (1246176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484185)

They haven't taken control of your information. They just took your ILLUSION of your control of your information.

Sorry... I was watched "Instinct" yesterday.

MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (5, Interesting)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484197)

I am really curious if it thinks I'm gay (does it consider bisexuality?). Also, this could be useful as a dating tool; if you don't know if the object of your affections is gay or not, run them through MIT Gaydar, and then possibly feel more secure about asking them out.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1, Offtopic)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484257)

My Kingdom for a mod point! Not being able to ask someone out for fear of mutual embarrassment and summary rejection is surely a weighty cross to bear.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (3, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484339)

That's not just a gay issue.. just ask any teenager (and quite a few adults)

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484529)

Yeah, someone should set up a company where people put in their interests and stuff, and it finds another member who matches then introduces them. Sounds like a possible application for them there newfangled computer doohickeys.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (4, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484519)

My Kingdom for a mod point! Not being able to ask someone out for fear of mutual embarrassment and summary rejection is surely a weighty cross to bear.

That is solved by socially accepting homosexuals, not by probing them.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484569)

[Spock eyebrow raise]

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484297)

Well, it sounds like it just adds up the number of gay Facebook friends you have. You could do that.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (4, Funny)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484387)

Does it also take into account if all your friends are women? If they're all members of a musical theatre troupe? If one of your friends is your mother...

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (5, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484597)

Or whether your last session originated from a Mac or not? And how about if you talk about, or have pictures of, Mazda Miatas in your profile?

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484661)

Well, it sounds like it just adds up the number of gay Facebook friends you have. You could do that.

Well, I think I have 2 or 3 that I know for sure, eg. they are openly such. But without the MIT Gaydar Facebook App, how am I to know for sure?

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (5, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484301)

Also, this could be useful as a dating tool; if you don't know if the object of your affections is gay or not, run them through MIT Gaydar, and then possibly feel more secure about asking them out.

Or, you know, you could just take the time to get to know someone a bit before asking them out. 'Course, you'd have to log off and go out into the real world to to that.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (4, Funny)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484429)

Where can I download this "real world" you speak of? Is it a one time purchase or a subscription fee?

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484525)

Both.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

RabidMoose (746680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484551)

Don't you ask somebody out in order to get the opportunity to get to know them? This issue has been debated heavily by 90's sitcoms.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484355)

I live in Kansas, you insensitive clod!

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484373)

If you REALLY are that stupid that you wouldn't ask someone if they were gay before asking them out.... There's an app for that?

No, I think you should model their characteristics in second life, and PRETEND to ask them out. Much less chance of rejection for you.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484375)

I am really curious if it thinks I'm gay (does it consider bisexuality?).

You are safe. It would just consider you opportunistic if it detects bisexuality.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484477)

The whole topic of gay and not gay has always been interesting to me because the line of thought is alien to me. I consider myself hyper-straight in the sense that I have been sexually attracted to women since before the age of 4... I always knew I liked looking at women... I liked the way their pants fit :) just didn't actually know why until I was 8 or so. But the notion of seeing men sexually has always been fascinating to me because I stretch my mind and still cannot see it. What do women see in men? I don't know. What do men see in men? I don't know. But as a man of the U.S. I have always believed that being gay was an identity based on what you do. A recent NPR show was discussing being gay in the middle east. There they did not so much identify gay as what you do but as who you are. That's a tough thing to wrap one's mind around... identity not based on what one does. Just about every kind of identity in the U.S. seems wrapped around what one does, what one has or his position.

So given this new mind-twister, the MIT Gaydar makes assumptions based on what? I'd be interested to know. Surely it can't be based on associations alone. If all my friends were black, would that indicate that I am also black? My tendency to burn in the sunlight would tend to disagree with that. I'd be interested to know how MIT defines gay to better understand how it makes determinations.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (4, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484523)

I disagree that the US considers people gay on the basis of what they do. There are lots of counter examples of people who aren't the way they act: closet gays, bicurious, abstaining gay christians, lifestyle gays, metrosexuals, gay until graduation.

Some act gay but aren't, some explore 'alternative' sexualities but never feel that they aren't straight, some clearly self-identify as gay but don't actually have same-sex intercourse. Despite the world's efforts to put us all into convenient pigeon holes, sexuality is a complex spectrum that doesn't lend itself well to assumptions.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484741)

> I consider myself hyper-straight in the sense that I have been sexually attracted to women since before the age of 4... I always knew I liked looking at women... I liked the way their pants fit
> seeing men sexually has always been fascinating to me

> I have always believed that being gay was an identity based on what you do.

You protest too much. Your post is just screaming 'gay'. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Have many others in your past made the 'mistake' of thinking you were gay?

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484771)

The whole topic of gay and not gay has always been interesting to me because the line of thought is alien to me. I consider myself hyper-straight in the sense that I have been sexually attracted to women since before the age of 4... I always knew I liked looking at women... I liked the way their pants fit :) just didn't actually know why until I was 8 or so. But the notion of seeing men sexually has always been fascinating to me because I stretch my mind and still cannot see it. What do women see in men? I don't know. What do men see in men? I don't know. But as a man of the U.S. I have always believed that being gay was an identity based on what you do. A recent NPR show was discussing being gay in the middle east. There they did not so much identify gay as what you do but as who you are. That's a tough thing to wrap one's mind around... identity not based on what one does. Just about every kind of identity in the U.S. seems wrapped around what one does, what one has or his position.

So given this new mind-twister, the MIT Gaydar makes assumptions based on what? I'd be interested to know. Surely it can't be based on associations alone. If all my friends were black, would that indicate that I am also black? My tendency to burn in the sunlight would tend to disagree with that. I'd be interested to know how MIT defines gay to better understand how it makes determinations.

If you don't know what features women look for in men, how can you make yourself attractive to them? If you don't know the system, how can you game the system to work for you?

Maybe you can't see what's sexually attractive in men, but you'd still recognise an attractive man - every human in the world has the ability to recognise attractive humans regardless of gender.

Now take that consideration and apply attractive==sexy and you know what it's like to be gay. Bravo.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (0, Offtopic)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484481)

> I am really curious if it thinks I'm gay (does it consider bisexuality?). Also, this could be useful as a dating tool; if you
> don't know if the object of your affections is gay or not, run them through MIT Gaydar, and then possibly feel more secure about
> asking them out.

I'm sure this'll go down well in Iraq:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/13/iraq-gays-murdered-militias [guardian.co.uk]

Then again, typically I can tell if someone is gay just from looking at their record collection...

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484521)

Uum, to be taken even close to serious, it would have to have a scale going from "100% gay" to 100% hetero". With allowing any value in-between.
Also it would make sense, to separate mind and body sexuality onto different scales. And if you want to be fancy, separate the interest to have relationships and the interest in just sex too.

Oversimplification... the oldest disease of human brains. :/

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484545)

It turns out that the Gaydar is always correct, if you disagree with the result then you're wrong. Perhaps you're actually gay but just haven't realised yet. If it tells you that you're gay then you might as well come out now.

Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484577)

I am really curious if it thinks I'm gay (does it consider bisexuality?).

I'm sorry if this seems assholish, but does it really matter if your bisexual or gay? The people who would hate you for being one would hate you for being the other.

LK

Well, that seems cut & dried... (5, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484199)

From the article:

The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions, but based on their own knowledge outside the Facebook world, their computer program appeared quite accurate for men, they said.

...The work has not been published in a scientific journal...

I once wrote a computer program that predicted coin tosses. I didn't check, but I'm pretty sure that if I had tossed a coin that the predictions would have been accurate.

Re:Well, that seems cut & dried... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484435)

Your coin toss program might work for we of the SchrÃdinger's Cat orientation, who don't yet know, however, based on my MIT friends, if it works in that environment, I don't see this would have any application in the real world.

Re:Well, that seems cut & dried... (4, Informative)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484631)

Also according to the article, they ran it against 10 friends who they know to be gay but who aren't "out" on Facebook. It hit 100%.

Too small a sample to be sure, but still significant.

The whole thing just boils down to "people who are ____ tend to have friends who are also ____.

Insert gay, straight, Christian, Moslem, male, female, old, young, black, white, whatever.

Incomplete headline (4, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484203)

Should be: MIT Project "Gaydar" Shakes Privacy Assumptions of Stupid Twats Who Still Won't Care

Re:Incomplete headline (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484445)

Should be: MIT Project "Gaydar" Shakes Privacy Assumptions of Stupid Twats Who Still Won't Care

They shouldn't. They just need to contextualize anything that they get accused of doing.

next step, profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484217)

The obvious next step will be to start selling (as a "separate company" for profit) gaydar jammers and gaydar detectors...

in the latest issue of DUH.... (3, Insightful)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484223)

You mean if people can view your social networks on facebook they can deduce some basic facts about you? Shocking! People really need to think about the compromise that they are making when they make their FB profiles and info visible to anyone but their immediate friends. It's ok if you want to do it, but just realize what you are doing.

Being on a social network site at all exposes you a lot. I decided I didn't give a crap, but I have everything set to 'friends only' and I don't use apps or quizzes. Reasonable compromise for a non-tin-foil-hatter.

Re:in the latest issue of DUH.... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484451)

> People really need to think about the compromise that they are making when
> they make their FB profiles and info visible to anyone but their immediate
> friends.

People really need to think about the compromise that they are making when they make their FB profiles and info visible to anyone.

Or better, people really need to think about the compromise that they are making when they make their FB profiles.

de-anonymizing (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484225)

I just read that you can tell with about 87% accuracy who a person is, based on their date of birth, gender, and zip code. How's this much different - it draws on public information in a meaningful way.

Not exactly rocket surgery! (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484233)

So twenty-five of your thirty Facebook friends are gay and of the same gender as you. And they conclude you're probably gay! Wow!

Re:Not exactly rocket surgery! (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484275)

Likewise, if twenty-five of your thirty Facebook friends are gay and of the opposite gender as you, they conclude you're probably single.

Dissecting the rocket. (2)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484607)

So twenty-five of your thirty Facebook friends are gay and of the same gender as you. And they conclude you're probably gay! Wow!

Twenty-five of your thirty Facebook friends who say to be gay, who are said to be gay or which the system assumes to be gay?

In the last case, we will have lots of people being indicated as homosexuals based on distant associations. It might even end up saying everyone is gay. All the system does is speculations.

The great majority of my friends drink beer often and likes soccer. I do not.

I'm still safe... (5, Funny)

celibate for life (1639541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484241)

I just hope they don't invent a virgin-radar.

Re:I'm still safe... (4, Insightful)

Archaemic (1546639) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484291)

With a username like "celibate for life", they don't really have to invent anything to tell you're a virgin.

Re:I'm still safe... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484693)

Your ID is nearly as high. When did you sign up? I wonder if it could be a "single issue account" (tm)?

Re:I'm still safe... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484343)

If you're posting on Slashdot you've already been outed.

Re:I'm still safe... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484357)

More specifically, the "virgin probability" score goes way up.

College is a waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484243)

This is what the kids of MIT are wasting there time with...

Re:College is a waste (0, Offtopic)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484333)

Back in my day, college was all about drinking, sex and illicit drug use.

Re:College is a waste (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484341)

Back in my day, college was all about drinking, sex and illicit drug use.

Exactly!

Re:College is a waste (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484453)

Back in my day, college was all about drinking, sex and illicit drug use.

On MIT, college is all about drinking, railroad model building, sex, illicit drug use, and Lisp programming. (Oh, did I mention illicit drug use? I guess that makes the Lisp part redundant.)

Re:College is a waste (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484467)

> Oh, did I mention illicit drug use? I guess that makes the Lisp part
> redundant.

No. The Lisp programming makes the illicit drug use redundant.

It's simple really... (4, Funny)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484267)

There are a couple of fields of personal data in facebook which state your marital status, and whether you are looking for a man or woman. It might just be possible from analyzing these details, which way you swing.

If you're from England (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484273)

and talk with that silly accent, you're gay [youtube.com]

Technology still too slow (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484277)

A computer fed with a few hundred megabytes of personal data can now determine in minutes what most of us in the life know as soon as we see the person. I should be impressed, except I'm totally not. Don't worry about this ever becoming popular though -- sooner or later someone will feed the program a list of US senators and then magically the next day all traces of the program, its authors, and the results will be declared illegal and the arrests will begin -- effective last tuesday.

More seriously, the problem isn't that people may be able to infer a person's sexual orientation -- it's the fact that this society still refuses to label those who use this type of information to slander, attack, and in some cases kill, other people. Our transparent society has brought a lot of social issues right out in the open where everyone can see them. And we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the injustices perpetuated by one group onto another. This, fundamentally, is what the fight over privacy is about: It's not what we are (or are not) that matters, but rather the correlations between those facts and the social meanings and messages attached to them. The fight for privacy is really founded upon the belief that the average person is insecure, full of prejudice and bile, and is generally a manipulative bastard who'll stab you in the back given half a chance.

And I can't find any fault in that statement. Most people are, and thus... Privacy will remain an important thing to fight for so long as we have reason to fight amongst ourselves.

Re:Technology still too slow (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484717)

sooner or later someone will feed the program a list of US senators and then magically the next day all traces of the program, its authors, and the results will be declared illegal and the arrests will begin -- effective last tuesday.

Who needs a program for that? A quick rundown:

- have an (R) next to their name: probably gay.

- are "born again": certainly gay.

- strongly advocated for "defending marraige": really gay.

- also want to "protect children": gay pedophile.

- are Rush Limbaugh: gay, but it doesn't count 'cause even crack whores won't sleep with him.

Give us the study (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484299)

Unless we can see the entire study, accuracy is suspect.

sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484323)

More paranoid nonsense from theo "DP". Huh huh. DP.

Seems like an obvious privacy hole... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484329)

The whole friend thing is kind of an obvious privacy hole, isn't it? I have only used Facebook a little, because I only joined at the request of my brother, and most of my "friends" on Facebook are professional and semi-professional connections. Also, because I only use it to keep up with my brother, I haven't bothered digging into its capabilities... but I certainly would have expected that there was an option to hide your friends list. Even if I was interested in using it more broadly the lack of such a feature would be a deal-killer for me.

Re:Seems like an obvious privacy hole... (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484349)

There is an option to hide your friends lists even from your friends. Anything you do on that site is purely voluntary as far as divulging information. But you need to spend a view minutes in the privacy settings to set them how you like.

Re:Seems like an obvious privacy hole... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484473)

Thanks, I'll keep that in mind if I'm ever tempted to use Facebook more seriously.

I kind of prefer the LinkedIn approach where you can't follow the social network at all without getting contacts to link you in step by step.

Re:Seems like an obvious privacy hole... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484491)

Trusting that LinkedIn or FaceBook won't get hacked right up the yin-yang is where it all falls down for me. I wouldn't friend anyone on fb that I wouldn't want to acknowledge as a friend in public. I wouldn't upload any information there that I wanted to remain private. There are other mechanisms for doing that, like encrypted e-mail.

I buy my gaydar... (3, Funny)

Chysn (898420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484331)

...at Sharper Image.

Re:I buy my gaydar... (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484517)

Not anymore you don't. [cnbc.com]

They'll really have something when... (2, Funny)

jafo (11982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484405)

They can tell me if the person I'm talking to online is wearing pants.

Sean

FB's datamining for ads works the same way (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484409)

When I first used FB, I kept most of the personal information blank. I only told it my age, that I was male, and that I was in a relationship and not looking for one.

FB at once started serving up gay-oriented ads. I never clicked on any of them or in any other way expressed interest, yet over time the percentage of these seemed to increase.

I finally gave up, and filled in the "interested in" section. The moment that field went from blank to "women", the gay ads vanished.

It isn't clear whether FB actually thought that I was gay, or just sought to pressure me into answering more questions about myself. If the former, its algorithms are entirely too simplistic. If the latter, it's evil.

Re:FB's datamining for ads works the same way (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484543)

They probably made the assumption that no single male would want to be single. If he were straight, he'd always put down "Interested in women" and not leave it blank.

A single male without anything "interested in", they figure, must be gay and still "in the closet", or at least not willing to advertise it to the world.

Old news (5, Interesting)

paradigm82 (959074) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484413)

This is old news (and really pretty obvious) and have been known in the gay community since FB started :) I have ~250 friends and being gay, quite a few of my friends are gay too. Whenever I click on some new person I can usually tell whether that person is gay (at least if it's a guy) or not, simply based on the number of gay friends we have in common (i.e. I don't even need to look at that person's friends individually to see whom of them are gay). So if we don't have any friends in common at all, it's usually a sign that the person isn't gay. Now, being from a small country (Denmark, 5.5 mio. citizens) implies a smaller gay community, but I would still think this observation would be valid in other countries at least within cities. The reason this works is of course that within all communities there are certain people who have _a lot_ of friends on Facebook and sort of serve as "magnets", in the sense that someone in the same community is likely to sooner or later run into that person and be added as a friend on Facebook - or at least run into one out of the "magnet" persons you are friends with.

Re:Old news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484489)

lol, facebook says you're a cum-dumpster, ball sucking faggot

and it turns out facebook is RIGHT!!!

MIT Project "Gaydar" Shakes Privacy Assumpitons (2, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484439)

What's an Assumpiton?

Re:MIT Project "Gaydar" Shakes Privacy Assumpitons (1)

iMac Were (911261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484777)

It's something you hump someone in the ass on. A bed, a couch, the back seat of a Hummer H3.

(captcha: deterred, LOL)

Party games (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484441)

There are things that make wonderful party games. Medicine cards, runes, reading body language, etc. There is really nothing wrong with these games.

The problem is when we start using these perfectly reasonable tools to begin to make real decisions. You are guilty because the runes said so. Most of us tend to believe that decisions should be made on some direct evidence, not indirect assumption. I mean it is not liek some guys think, that every girl that won't go out with them is a lesbian and every guy that hates football is gay.

There is the issue of what makes a person gay, straight, or bi. Just like sleeping with large numbers of the opposite sex does not make one straight, and may indicate a deep seated concern, there is nothing other than a self identification that can suggest a real sexual preference. I don't think a professional, or computer program, or parent can within a reasonable certainty state a sexual preference for another person. And this has nothing to do with the controversy. It has to do with weather we live by reason and evidence or by superstition and hearsay. I think the MIT people are simply too infatuated with cult of technology.

Re:Party games (4, Funny)

quantaman (517394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484655)

Just like sleeping with large numbers of the same sex does not make one gay

fixed that for you

--Ted Haggard

Re:Party games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484791)

Just like sleeping with large numbers of the opposite sex does not make one straight, ...

Wait, what?

OR = FAIL (0, Offtopic)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484485)

[..] predicting who might be a terrorist to the likelihood a person is happy, fat, liberal, or conservative.

Or? And an exclusive one too! You could as well go to the cave and bang on a piece of wood, "blarg good! wuoargh baad! ughwharrk!". You wouldn't stand out a bit.

Here, in the world of 21st century Homo sapiens sapiens, we aware of simple basic playschool-level facts, like that
1. Every property is a dimension in property space.
2. Every dimension has a gradient. (Possibly quantized on the Planck level of space-time, depending on what theories you believe in.)
3. If the properties are not exactly opposite to each other (making them one dimension with negative values), they are not exactly opposite.
4. The state of every position on every dimension may or may not be relative to any of the other positions of the other dimensions in property space, depending on their orthogonality.

My god, is this that hard to understand?

Sheldon Cooper [imdb.com]

Geee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484509)

geee, I never figured that out almost a year ago... to great success I might add... I bagged one, and now were engaged... :-D

It's not the 1950s any more (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484541)

A lot of the people on Facebook the MIT students predicted were gay were likely making no attempt to hide it and would have no objection to anyone knowing. Which makes the conclusion one big "so what?" A man who lists his favorite politician as Barney Frank, his favorite actress as Judy Garland, the city he would most like to live in as San Francisco, and who has among his friends the entire board of the campus gay and lesbian association is probably gay... but probably either doesn't care who knows or actually wants people to know.

Re:It's not the 1950s any more (1)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484789)

I think there's a lot of room here for false positives. I don't want to be the target of an advertising (or worse yet hate) campaign just because I fell into some arbitrary category based on the stereotypes of self righteous fools in the ivory tower. Unfortunately, I think the only way to beat this (meaning this particular scheme) is to avoid fbook entirely. Anyways, my friends don't need fbook to know who they are. There's enough people selling my information as it is so I don't think I need to actively help them but putting info on fbook.

alright, flame away

Will it Out People in Denial? (2, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484559)

Every so often we get one of those delicious stories in the news about some right-wing christian conservative being outed by an ex-gay lover or getting arrested after trying to pick up men in a public rest room. The funny thing is these are usually the most anti-gay people imaginable and it turns out they've either been playing or been wanting to play dingle-dangle-dingle with the personal equipment of their own gender for quite a while now. Can I just point this thing at Fox News, the Radio Talk Show Tinfoil Hats or the homophobic side of Congress and get a reading on how many of them are secretly smoking pole on the side?

Hey kids i'm original (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484603)

Lets take something old school like 'Guilty by Association' and apply it to something controversial like being gay. Now lets point out how this is something you can infer given information freely give out online. Wow look guys we can add simple things up.

This is considered a break through? Next course will be inferring information based off of mailing lists people subscribe to.

It checks if you're a mets fan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484629)

It's really no big deal, their code just checks to see if you're a mets fan or not. If you are, well... hello, 'Frisco!

Shakes assumpitons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484641)

An assumpiton is apparently analogous to a soliton [wikipedia.org] .

Where a soliton is a stable, traveling, localized-energy solution to a wave equation, the assumpiton is a stable, traveling, localized solution to the ass 'ump equation, and thus it's perfectly natural that any revolutions in gaydar should shake them.

Next, the Facebook app. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484683)

The Facebook app for this can't be far away.

In summary: (2, Informative)

hoofinasia (1234460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484685)

MIT students find that gay people tend to be friends with gay people. The world gasps. Backs are patted.

colloquialism "Birds of a feather.." confirmed empirically. stop the presses.

Confirming sayings (4, Insightful)

Tarrio (151332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484697)

There's a Spanish saying, "tell me who you are with and I'll tell you who you are". I guess this is scientific proof.

My program predicts much more (3, Funny)

webbiedave (1631473) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484753)

I have a program that can determine if someone on facebook may be gay, liberal, conservative, plus what their top 5 movies are, their top 5 albums, if they're bored, and even sometimes what they're eating! I call it: a browser.

So... (1)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#29484809)

I guess this answers the question of whether the old saying "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are" is true.

typo in headline, anyone ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29484813)

assumpitons?

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