On Facebook, do you ‘like’ The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones? Or P90X and your local gym? Well, depending on your ‘likes,’ Mark Zuckerberg‘s social network can take a pretty educated guess if you’re obese or not, according to a new study from Harvard Medical School.
Reseachers looked at Facebook users’ interests around the country. The more people ‘liked’ healthy and active lifestyle activities in an area, the less likely that region was to have a high obesity rate. On the other hand, the more people ‘liked’ television, the more likely that region was to have a high obesity rate. (And for some strange reason, the association was particularly high in New York City. Time to unplug for a few hours, New Yorkers?)
Of course, this information could have potential ad targeting uses (Facebook thinks you’re fat, here’s this diet pill ad; you ‘like’ Taco Bell and Oreos, here’s this coupon for Spinning classes). But scientists hope it could serve other public health purposes too, by identifying regions in which more obesity intervention is needed.
That may be true, but why do we feel so violated?