Data Selfie Will Tell You How Facebook Sees You

April 13, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

Taking a selfie is something that a lot of people won’t even think twice about these days, but something that we give even less thought to is what the Internet often thinks about our online habits. We’re not talking about other users online here, either, but more the sites and algorithms themselves. A pair of students recently developed the “Data Selfie”, a program that’s currently still in development that wants to let people see how Facebook sees themselves using a number of a different variables and such mapped to charts and percentages.

Thanks to the help of IBM Watson MFA Students Hang Do Thi Duc and Regina Flores Mir developed the Data Selfie to educate users “about how the internet works so they can make decisions themselves”. The Data Selfie will crawl a user’s activity on Facebook and then put together a sort of report of how advertizers see your profile. Interestingly enough, it sounds as though these algorithms are a lot more complex than you might first think, with Do Thi Duc saying that, for instance an advertizer won’t label you as a Democrat because you like a Democrat’s page or post. Instead, it’s said to be the more mundane things that we all do online that help create a picture of what sort of user you are, and what sort of advertizing you might respond to.

Right now, there’s an iOS app in the works as well as a Google Chrome Extension that will help users see what Facebook and their advertizers think of your profile and the content that you’re sharing. There’s a demo video linked at the source below, and it appears as though a person’s Data Selfie will be represented in certain values such as “openness” or “extraversion”. All of these value are then visualized in a sort of graph off to the right, and even though this is about educating users, the current look and feel of the app does seem a little “Big Brother” and some users might take this the wrong way. Regardless, it seems as though there’s going to be some more waiting before we can go ahead and take our own Data Selfie.