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Facebook Knows You Better Than Your Friends Do

It knows you better than your own mom does, too.

Guess who knows you better than your roommate, best friend, mom, and partner?

Facebook, according to a new study in which researchers from the University of Cambridge and Stanford University compared the accuracy of personality judgments made by computers and Facebook users' friends and family. 

In the study, 86,220 volunteers completed a 100-item personality self-assessment using the myPersonality app on Facebook. The results, which evaluate openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, served as the baseline. Participants then asked their friends and family to describe them in a 10-item version of the assessment. 

Participants also granted researchers access to their Facebook like logs. A computer algorithm processed them to guess people's personality traits. 

When researchers compared the personality judgments made by friends and family with those made by computers, the computers came closer to replicating the self-reported personality traits. The more items a person liked, the more accurate the computer was at judging his or her personality. Computers needed just 10 likes to score better than a colleague, 70 likes to beat a roommate or friend, 150 likes to surpass a family member, and 300 likes to do better than a spouse. 


It's may be sad and weird, but it might not totally be a surprise that computers know you better than people IRL: Computers retain vast quantities of information and process it objectively, whereas humans retain less overall. Inevitably, humans also let their feelings cloud their judgments in a way that affects assessment accuracy, according to researchers. (In an ideal world, this means they focus on your best traits.)

So the next time your friend misunderstands you? Just direct her to your Facebook profile. 

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors. 

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