Two MIT students who were taking a course in Ethics and Law undertook a project to write a program that predicts sexual preference from facebook friends and interests, the Boston Globe reports.
They took a sample of approximately 2500 men from facebook of profiles that joined the MIT network and were in their cohort. First they trained their program on profiles of people who had filled in their sexual preference and then they had their program predict sexual preference for a sample of almost 1000 who had not filled it in. They took their personal knowledge of 10 people in the network that are gay but hadn’t filled it in on the profile as a simple check for the predictions and those were all predicted to be gay. It doesn’t seem to work so well with predicting the sexual preference of women.
They apparently had approval for this project from the ethical review board at MIT, whom I think might want to review their criteria.