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Rob Gould

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002). Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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Posted: June 18, 2014

Five Labs | A creepy new Facebook personality test | Advertiser’s dream + privacy nightmare

Written by: Rob Gould

Five Labs landing page 061814One of the most valuable assets of social media is the ability to analyze almost everything about yourself based on little to no information. The latest online data-intensive introspection tool comes from a startup called Five. Now, hold onto your seats as you sign up to allow the last vestiges of your privacy to be stripped away.

The California-based start-up has launched a tool called Five Labs that claims to analyze your personality type by crawling through your Facebook posts. The New York Times described it last week: “[Five] analyzes the language in which we write, and determines our relative affiliation to five personality attributes: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.” The results appear as a warped pentagon. Each side is assigned a percentage based on how much your personality reflects each of the five traits.

The tool was inspired by a study conducted at University of Pennsylvania published last year in PLOS One Journal. Researchers led by H. Andrew Schwartz analyzed 700 million words, phrases and topics collected from the Facebook posts of 75,000 volunteers. They noticed linguistic patterns in the volunteers’ posts — some words were strongly associated with certain personality traits.

In order to get your analysis, you enter your own or someone else’s Facebook profile URL, and are soon presented with a personalized warped pentagonal graph of personality traits. Here, for example, is mine (STOP LAUGHING!):

Five Labs Rob Gould profile 061814

Five Labs also claims to tell you how much you have in common with Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg (along with many other famous types) and any of your Facebook friends. It also has frightening implications for the future of online advertising.

Nikita Bier, the founder of Five Labs, said the biggest response from volunteers they tested the tool with was “this is kind of creepy.” Are Internet companies doing this sort of analysis on us? volunteers wanted to know.

For better or for worse, the app shows people what companies can do with their online data. “It creates balance in what was previously asymmetrical,” Bier told The Washington Post. “Consumers didn’t know exactly what companies were doing with that data and didn’t understand the capacity.”

The good news, though, is that Five won’t be handing over your personality charts to marketers anytime soon. “We don’t have any plans to sell the data,” says Bier. “It’s purely educational.”

So, sign up here and find out whether you’re more like Ghandi or Oprah. I’m sure you can guess who I matched up with.

Go ahead, try it, what have you got to lose? You don’t have any privacy anyway.


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