Information as society’s Achilles heel


Many people have read about Cambridge Analytic, and the related Facebook information downloads, as well as the use of created profiles. However, fewer people are aware what data Facebook finds necessary to collect.

In addition, in the Estonian language information space there is not much talk about profiling and what and how Cambridge Analytica did with data collected from Facebook and elsewhere.

The machine knows us better than we know ourselves
A 2015 study in which researchers at Cambridge University and Stanford University analyzed data of 86,220 people on Facebook and found that based on traces left on Social Media, artificial intelligence can assess a person’s personal characteristics.

For example, it was learned that Artificial Intelligence (AI) knows you better than your colleagues in 10 ways; 70 ways better than your friend or flat mate; 150 ways better than your relatives and about 300 ways better than your life partner.

During the survey period, the average Facebook user had left 227 traces in the environment.

Let us just say that Cambridge Analytica had information packs on about 220 million USA people (USA population is 327 million), with an average of 5,000 information fragments per person.

What information does Facebook collect on us?

Despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the introduction of GDPR in the European Union and the general rise in people’s awareness, people still know very little about what data their environment collects on them.

Thinking briefly about Facebook, we can probably be able to independently design up to twenty different types of personal information that the environment could collect about us.

In fact, as early as 2016, Facebook released 98 pieces of data that they wanted to know about us. In 2018, it received much attention in the English language media, but this knowledge has still not adequately reached the Estonian language info room.

With the adoption of the GDPR in the European Union, knowing how to collect personal information has greatly improved and the obligation to transfer your database to you has enabled you to know what is known about you. You can ask for a similar data set from Google and other data collection environments.

In spring 2018, Facebook also made significant changes to its data policy, and today it is possible to read in great detail what data is being collected, how and for what purposes, and also with whom it is being shared or being used for.

The Big Five or OCEAN model

Cambridge Analytica and other personal profile authors have often used the Big Five model, OCEAN to understand people’s personal characteristics. As the name suggests, profiling a person reduces all information to five personal attributes and provides a profile that can predict their behavioural pattern and target advertising, including dark advertising.

Using the OCEAN model, personal profiling is based on:

Openness – whether the person enjoys new experiences;

Conscientiousness –whether one prefers planning and order;

Extraversion –whether one likes to spend time with others;

Agreeableness –whether one puts the needs of others ahead of oneself;

Neuroticism –does a person worry a lot?

By combining these five personality traits, you can create a person’s behavioral model that can predict and direct one’s behavior.

On the Cambridge University website, you can take the Big Five Test and get an idea of your profile.

In addition to completing the test, we encourage you to review your information on Facebook and Google. The resulting information pack can be hundreds of megabytes large and may contain many surprises.