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MIT Students Invent 'Gaydar' Software

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 58 comments

Is your friends list letting the cat out of the bag when it comes to your sexuality?

A couple of MIT students conducting a study on social networking arrived upon a very unique conclusion: the two discovered that by studying the company a person keeps online it is possible to determine the individual's sexual preference, even if they have decided to not share that information in their profile.

Boston.com reports that two MIT students recently decided to study social networking and privacy from a new angle. Instead of the usual "Did you know your Facebook profile could ruin your chances of gainful employment or get you fired?" approach, the two decided to take a look at what people unknowingly reveal about themselves through social networking sites and named the project "Project Gaydar."

Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistreeused created a software program that looks at the gender and sexuality of a person's friends and, using statistical analysis, predicts their sexual preference. While Boston.com does concede that the two students had no way of checking if all of their predictions were right or not, they claim that based on their knowledge outside the Facebook world, the tool appeared to be particularly accurate when it came to men.

“When they first did it, it was absolutely striking - we said, ‘Oh my God - you can actually put some computation behind that,’ ” Hal Abelson, a computer science professor at MIT who co-taught the course, said according to Boston.com. “That pulls the rug out from a whole policy and technology perspective that the point is to give you control over your information - because you don’t have control over your information.”

Read the full story here.

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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    Hellbound , September 22, 2009 5:04 PM
    I'm a female lesbian stuck in a mans body...
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2009 5:00 PM
    I'm afraid to leave a comment here. Someone might find out I'm gay!
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    ta152h , September 22, 2009 4:53 PM
    Is this really useful? I mean, everyone can pretty much tell a homo from a hetero in real life, and if they can't, they need more than a software program to help them. Online, do you really care? As long as the risk of them grabbing my butt is zero, I don't care at all if a guy is gay or not.

    Should I?

    The other side is, now they will have homosexuals worried about how they act online. Is that really fair to them? Don't they have enough problems dealing with how they act in real life? Now they have to worry online too. Good grief.
  • 9 Hide
    jellico , September 22, 2009 4:59 PM
    The point is not that they are going to market a program that can do that, so much as letting people know that you reveal a lot more about yourself, on social networking sites, then you might otherwise have realized.
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2009 5:00 PM
    I'm afraid to leave a comment here. Someone might find out I'm gay!
  • 25 Hide
    Hellbound , September 22, 2009 5:04 PM
    I'm a female lesbian stuck in a mans body...
  • 2 Hide
    moazbhutta , September 22, 2009 5:09 PM
    i guess it was pretty obvious all along! atleast to me it was
  • 0 Hide
    coonday , September 22, 2009 5:16 PM
    I don't need their software. My Gaydar is already deadly accurate.
  • 6 Hide
    blackened144 , September 22, 2009 5:17 PM
    troy howardlol....i don't like gay people

    Is this you?

    http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/?p=3346
  • 7 Hide
    rooket , September 22, 2009 5:30 PM
    ta152hIs this really useful? I mean, everyone can pretty much tell a homo from a hetero in real life, and if they can't, they need more than a software program to help them. Online, do you really care? As long as the risk of them grabbing my butt is zero, I don't care at all if a guy is gay or not. Should I?The other side is, now they will have homosexuals worried about how they act online. Is that really fair to them? Don't they have enough problems dealing with how they act in real life? Now they have to worry online too. Good grief.


    That's not exactly true. I've met normal looking people that turned out to be gay. Also told a lady about a guy who was wearing finger nail polish and she didn't have a slight clue he was gay. It's not as easy as you kids think.

    Why does it even matter if someone is gay? As long as they aren't imposing on you, they should be able to do whatever they want. Who cares. This news story is useless.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2009 5:33 PM
    I can usually pick out which guys are gay, they are the unusually charming, well dressed, good looking men who don't have a wife, yet their house is actually clean. The rest are straight.
  • -1 Hide
    charlesxuma , September 22, 2009 5:36 PM
    General Activity of a Young Dudes Area of Relativity,




    GAYDAR,
  • 9 Hide
    quickwind , September 22, 2009 5:40 PM
    Why are people 'thumbs upping' the anti-gay comments...And it isn't always obvious, though yes in many cases it is.
  • 9 Hide
    JMcEntegart , September 22, 2009 5:46 PM
    quickwindWhy are people 'thumbs upping' the anti-gay comments...


    My thoughts exactly. Sigh.
  • 3 Hide
    thackstonns , September 22, 2009 5:52 PM
    ta152hIs this really useful? I mean, everyone can pretty much tell a homo from a hetero in real life, and if they can't, they need more than a software program to help them. Online, do you really care? As long as the risk of them grabbing my butt is zero, I don't care at all if a guy is gay or not. Should I?The other side is, now they will have homosexuals worried about how they act online. Is that really fair to them? Don't they have enough problems dealing with how they act in real life? Now they have to worry online too. Good grief.



    They dont really care if they are homosexual or not. It is a proof of concept. It is for marketing. Now imagine facebook knows you are gay and starts to shape thier ads accordingly. Also lets say they can determine other things like social status, income, personal preferances, etc. Then they can shape marketing to match. Or if you are paranoid than just think the government will know way more about you than what you would like them to. I wouldnt be suprised if the gov. doesnt already have statistical software like this already. That way the can pander to different groups, not that it matters they all just lie anyway.
  • 8 Hide
    truthismistrue , September 22, 2009 6:01 PM
    I can imagine a member of the CIA reading this and chuckling. They can probably tell how many asshairs you have by your friends of facebook but they don't bother because they have satellites that can see how many asshairs you have anyway.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkness Flame , September 22, 2009 6:01 PM
    Anyone else picking up on the Futurama reference here? I mean, no one else seems to have commented on it.
  • 5 Hide
    tayb , September 22, 2009 6:01 PM
    Better yet is the study that links homophobia and dislike/hatred of gay people with homosexual arousal. There is a strong link between people who hate gay people and people who are afraid of gay people and being aroused by homosexual porn. Do a google search for the study and be prepared to laugh.
  • 0 Hide
    mikepaul , September 22, 2009 6:12 PM
    I'd say the real issue is what ELSE can be gleaned from similar analysis. It's not like terrorists will have a bunch of terrorist friends, at least there's probably no checkbox marked 'pro-terror', but say one of your friends turns out to be into Child Pornography. Will some researcher send the cops over to interview YOU?...
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 22, 2009 6:25 PM
    This isn't exactly groundbreaking research. It's been known for years now that you can extrapolate information about people from collections of other information related to them. This is already being used on a smaller level with grocery store discount cards, online retailers, music personalization software, and search engines. An even older practice which achieves the same results is profiling. Contemporary social networking just makes it easier.
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