It happens to all of us – we allow our emotions to get the better of us, we let go of rationality, and we post something we shouldn’t to Facebook or Twitter. Since social media began, people have been getting themselves into trouble with their friends and family by posting the wrong remarks at the wrong time. But now we have one more reason to be cautious about what we post – it may reveal just what kind of person we really are!
Dubbed the “Twitter Big 5“, a new experiment has been going on over at Kaggle.com to see if people’s tweets can reveal psychopathic tendencies. According to the experiment webpage, “The organizers provide all interested participants an anonymised dataset of users self assessed psychopathy scores together with 337 variables derived from functions of Twitter information, useage and lingusitc analysis. Psychopathy scores are based on a checklist developed by Professor Del Paulhus at the University of British Columbia.” The result is to test for Psychopathy, Narcissism and Machiavellianism using people’s publicly available tweets.
It should be noted that this is one of those “experiments for experiments sakes”. A contest is being held to see who can come up with the most predictive algorithm for psychopathic tendencies, but the results will be used for academic research purposes … for now.
If there’s a list of the top disturbing trends of online activity in the 21st Century, the use of personal data for corporate profiteering surely nears the top. Marketing machines mine data looking for subtler ways to convince us to buy their products, and business executives analyze social media activity looking for red flags amongst their employees and interviewees. When the Twitter Big 5 results come in and an algorithm is published, you can be sure that companies will use it to bolster their claims that you are unworthy to work there.
The Twitter Big 5 makes for an interesting experiment to say the least. But will it result in a safer web experience? Only to the degree that it causes us to exercise a bit of caution before posting that psychopathic tweet for the world to see!
[Image via cedarsage.com]