Facebook has made no secret of its efforts to collect the information of its 1.35-billion-strong user base. Every piece of information on the site is potentially valuable; it all adds up to create a fairly complete (and creepy) portrait of a user. Facebook proved that even more this week when it released data detailing how what you like on the site can actually predict your political affiliations.
Using Facebook likes given to musicians, television shows, books, authors and even landmarks, the site was able to illustrate how these tastes corresponded with left- or right-leaning political beliefs. For instance, Democrats liked The Beatles and Bob Marley far more often than Republicans, who listened to country artists like George Strait and Miranda Lambert. For television, the results were equally unsurprising: more liberal people tend to watch Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, while conservative Facebook users prefer watching Ducky Dynasty during their downtime.
While this information may not be shocking, the fact that Facebook has collected so much of it is. As noted by writer Caitlin Dewey in The Washington Post, there’s nothing stopping Facebook from making many millions more inferences about user behavior using other seemingly unrelated data. And that’s the thought that’s truly troubling. If Facebook can accurately judge your political beliefs, what else might they be able to determine?