Advertisers can guess if you’re gay by the pages you like on Facebook.
Facebook advertisers can also figure out your political and religious beliefs from a few likes.
A new study has revealed that as few as three likes can tell advertisers if you are gay or not.
This could be done even when users have intentionally withheld such information from Facebook apparently.
Researchers at American university’s Columbia Business School in New York, Northeastern University in Boston and New York University are behind the study.
They published the results in the Big Data journal.
The study was conducted to decipher how likes can be used to identify traits.
These traits include sexual orientation, IQ, if they smoke or drink, political beliefs and religious beliefs.
The study said that, for example, liking pages for Lady Gaga, the Human Rights Campaign, the TV show True Blood and Harry Potter increase the chances of the user being gay.
Other pages that could tell advertisers you’re gay are Desperate Housewives or Britney Spears.
Such assumptions are being used by advertisers more and more often to tailor their advertising to the user.
A previous study said your Facebook likes can be used to predict your sexual orientation with 88% accuracy.
The authors behind the study suggested that a ‘cloaking system’ is introduced.
This would allow users to stop such assumptions being made about them.
‘Cloaking’ an average of 3.5 likes would stop Facebook assuming a user is gay.
‘While some online users may benefit from being targeted based on assumptions of their personal characteristics, others may find such inferences unsettling,’ the study’s authors wrote.
A previous study also revealed your Facebook likes can be used to reveal your personality.
‘The cloaking device tells the system: ‘do not draw inferences like this about me.’ Or more practically, “do not show me ads or content for the same reasons that you decided to show me this,”‘ the authors continued.