The Cambridge Analytica scandal – potentially the biggest news story of the whole year – has been full of revelations: 50 million users having their data harvested for psycho-profiling by a shadowy organisation with links to the Leave campaign, Russian government and Donald Trump is a pretty big deal, I guess?
And with all the attention being paid to the whole “massive breach from one of the world’s largest tech companies prompting a global crisis in how our data is bought, sold and shared” thing, it appears we’ve overlooked the most important thing of all: what exactly those pesky cyber warfare experts actually found out about us and our personalities.
Much of the data was taken from a 2015 Facebook app, myPersonality, created by researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Center. The app, an 100-question personality quiz, was based around the ‘Big Five’ personality types – a psychological concept that measures individuals by their openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
And, as the New York Times reports, those taking the quiz had these personality types aligned with their Facebook likes – giving Cambridge Analytica, and now us, an understanding of how personality, interests and lifestyle interact.
The Big Five personality types
- Openness means someone may be intellectually curious and appreciate art, emotion and experience, but can also be unpredictable, have a lack of focus and be more likely to engage in risky behaviour;
- Conscientious people are organised, self-disciplined and focused on achievement but can also be stubborn, inflexible and obsessive;
- Extraversion means someone is high energy, assertive and talkative – but can also be attention-seeking or dominant;
- Agreeableness indicates that someone is cooperative and helpful, but with tendencies towards naivety and submissiveness
- Neuroticism means someone may be more prone to psychological stress and emotional instability
Fans of the band – who are well known for their pithy, biting and often pretty miserable lyrics – were featured alongside Placebo, Bring Me The Horizon and Marilyn Manson as some of the most neurotic – compared to fans of ESPN, football and Derrick Rose, who are apparently far less prone to stress and instability.
Other ‘Big Five’ types were also pretty revealing, too.
Fans of Björk, Tom Waits, Salvador Dali and A Clockwork Orange were some of the most open on Facebook; conversely, fans of Cheryl Cole and The Hills were amongst the least open.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal shows no sign of stopping, either. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has now apologised, saying in a statement that the incident was a “breach of trust”.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote. “I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”