What’s your data #selfie?

Posted: April 16, 2017, 6:44pm

There are many reasons that I use Google Chrome to browse the web, but one of the main reasons I do is for the extensions. There are a seemingly endless supply of cool technology addons to Chrome in the form of extensions. One, called Data Selfie, allows you to take back control of your data that you might be generating on social media… without even knowing it.

After installing the extension it will track your presence on Facebook in order to track the amount of time spent on looking at each post, how you interact (i.e. a ‘like’) and then apply machine learning and natural language processing to analysis the data and make predictions about your personality. As you can see above, the data from my last week on social media websites spread through out the day, color coded according to the actions in the top left. An interesting thing is that I (probably like most of us) interact by watching more than typing. It seems that we are pretty content to observe the lives of others without commenting whatsoever. Hmm.

Using those same color codes, take a look at this extension’s predictions of my personality (green is ‘looking’ and yellow is ‘typing’) — almost every category is more liberal in the typing category than the looking category. Maybe my fear of others’ opinions drives me to share more crowd-friendly content — or at least what I perceive to be crowd-friendly based on my friend list? I also find it comical that the second category of hard-working is stronger for ‘typing’ — could it be that the act of typing requires more hard work than just looking?

What is the purpose of all this? It’s a good reminder that your data follows you everywhere. Even when you don’t click, someone can be tracking what your eyes are looking at it and use it to make predictions about your shopping habits or wants/needs later. Data selfie had many other prediction panels and some of them were wrong. They predicted my love of clothes incorrectly (I’m not particularly into fashion). They only gave me a 32% chance of being a Christian and said that my psychological gender is around 52% male. None of those are very strong predictions, and my friends would know those things within minutes of meeting me, while Data Selfie has been running in the background for a few months.

But then…. maybe I don’t know myself as well as I thought.

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