People who choose not to reveal their sexual preferences on Facebook could still be outed without their consent through a new piece of software.
According to MIT research students Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree, who created the software dubbed “Gaydar,” a person’s sexuality can be worked out by assessing his social network.
The software can “predict” a person’s sexuality by looking at the friends listed on an individual’s profile, which is usually not hidden.
This is based on the principle that individuals’ social networks largely revolve around people who they identify and have things in common with.
The students created the software as a research project and analysed the friends links of 1,544 men and found that ten men who claimed to be straight on Facebook, but who they personally knew as being gay, were all correctly identified as gay by the programme.
They found however that the software was not as successful in identifying bisexual men or women, or lesbians.