Truth Frequency Radio
Oct 31, 2013

facebook-news-feed-algorithm-prediction-spouse-partner-breakup-social-media-truth-frequency-radio-chris-geo-sheree-geo-alternative-media-news-informationWhy Guessing Your Romantic Partner Is So Important to Facebook

By Daniela Hernandez, Wired

This week, with a paper published on the online academic research site ArXiv.org, Backstrom revealed one of the recent fruits of his labor: an experimental algorithm that analyzes your personal network of friends, seeking to identify your strongest relationships. Developed alongside his former Cornell thesis adviser, Jon Kleinberg, the algorithm is strong enough to independently identify your spouse or romantic partner and even predict when you’re headed for a breakup.

Yes, odds are you’ve already told Facebook who your romantic partner is — via your profile page. But this algorithm does much more than that. It’s not a party trick. It’s a way for Facebook to better understand who you are and, ultimately, serve you more stuff that you wan to see.

Backstrom’s research is part of a growing movement at companies and universities to use machine learning and large amounts of online data to better understand human behavior and interactions and interests. “Extending our knowledge about people through the computational lens provided by large scale online services is unprecedented,” says Eric Horvitz, managing co-director of the Microsoft Research lab in Redmond, Washington. “These kinds of data analytics are revolutionizing social science and changing our deep understanding of people as social beings.”

Some projects will even explore how information that ripples across the web can help us better analyze the effects of the world we live in — how Google, Microsoft and Yahoo searches can be used to detect drug side effects, for instance, or how social media can predict epidemics. Backstrom’s algorithm predicts relationships, and as it turns out, that helps improve the online services that give us all that data in the first place. “There is a deep scientific interest in the structure of human ties,” says Horvitz. “Understanding people’s preferences and interests is core in providing an engaging and informative service.”

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