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更新时间:2018-3-21 19:42:28 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How Researchers Learned to Use Facebook ‘Likes’ to Sway Your Thinking

Perhaps at some point in the past few years you’ve told Facebook that you like, say, Kim Kardashian West. When you hit the thumbs-up button on her page, you probably did it because you wanted to see the reality TV star’s posts in your news feed. Maybe you realized that marketers could target advertisements to you based on your interest in her.

可能在过去几年中的某个时候,你曾告诉Facebook,你喜欢——比如说,金·卡戴珊·韦斯特(Kim Kardashian West)。你在她的主页上点“赞”,可能只是因为你想在自己的新闻推送中看到这个电视真人秀明星的发帖。可能你也明白,营销人员会根据你对她的兴趣而向你投放定向广告。

What you probably missed is that researchers had figured out how to tie your interest in Ms. Kardashian West to certain personality traits, such as how extroverted you are (very), how conscientious (more than most) and how open-minded (only somewhat). And when your fondness for Ms. Kardashian West is combined with other interests you’ve indicated on Facebook, researchers believe their algorithms can predict the nuances of your political views with better accuracy than your loved ones.


As The New York Times reported on Saturday, that is what motivated the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to collect data from more than 50 million Facebook users, without their consent, to build its own behavioral models to target potential voters in various political campaigns. The company has worked for a political action committee started by John R. Bolton, who served in the George W. Bush administration, as well as for President Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. “We find your voters and move them to action,” the firm boasts on its website.

正如《纽约时报》周六的报道,正是这一点促动了咨询公司剑桥分析(Cambridge Analytica)收集了5000多万Facebook用户的信息,在未经他们同意的情况下,建立起了自己的行为模型,以便在不同的政治活动中瞄准潜在投票者。这个公司曾为乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)政府的约翰·R·博尔顿(John R. Bolton)创建的政治行动委员会工作,也曾在2016年的总统大选中帮助过特朗普。“我们帮你找到投票人并催促他们行动,”该公司在其网站上如此宣称。

Cambridge Analytica now says it has destroyed the user data it collected on Facebook. Raw data reviewed by The Times suggests the information, or copies of it, may still exist. In either case, specific user information was merely a means to an end, a building block in a far more ambitious construction: a behavioral model powerful enough to manipulate people’s activity and, potentially, sway elections.


The firm adapted its approach to personality modeling from studies conducted by researchers at Stanford University and the Psychometrics Center at the University of Cambridge. The studies relied on data collected by a Facebook app called myPersonality, a 100-question quiz developed by the Psychometrics Center that assessed a person’s openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, traits commonly referred to in the academic community by the acronym Ocean.

该公司根据斯坦福大学(Stanford University)及剑桥大学(University of Cambridge)心理测量中心(Psychometrics Center)研究人员进行的研究调整了自己的性格建模方法。该研究依赖于Facebook一款名叫myPersonality(我的性格)的应用收集来的数据,这是一套由心理测量中心开发的100问小测验,可测评一个人的开放性(openness)、严谨性(conscientiousness)、外向性(extroversion)、宜人性(agreeableness)和神经质(neuroticism),这些特征常被学术界以缩写“OCEAN”指代。

Many respondents who took the quiz through the myPersonality app authorized it to gain access to their Facebook profile data, and that of their friends — access that was allowed by the social network at the time. That allowed researchers to cross-reference the results of the quiz — numeric Ocean scores — with the users’ Facebook “likes,” and build a model from the correlations they found between the two. With that model, the researchers could often make precise guesses about subsequent users’ personalities using only a list of their likes, no 100-question quiz necessary.


One of the studies the Psychometrics Center produced, published in 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was built on the “likes” and Ocean scores of more than 70,000 respondents who took the myPersonality quiz on Facebook. It found that a person who liked the movie “Fight Club,” for example, was far more likely to be open to new experiences than a person who liked “American Idol,” according to a review of data provided to The Times by Michal Kosinski, an author of the 2015 study and a computer science professor at Stanford.

心理测量中心2015年发表在《美国国家科学院学报》(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)上的一项研究,正是以Facebook上的点赞数以及在该平台上接受myPersonality测试的7万多名受访者的Ocean得分为依据。例如,根据对2015年那项研究的作者、斯坦福大学计算机科学教授米哈尔·科辛斯基(Michal Kosinski)提供给时报的数据所做评估,该研究发现,喜欢电影《搏击俱乐部》(Fight Club)的人很可能比喜欢《美国偶像》(American Idol)的人更愿意接受新体验。

In that study, the researchers compared the accuracy of their model with personality assessments made by the respondents’ friends. The friends were given a 10-question version of the myPersonality quiz and asked to answer based on their knowledge of the respondents’ personalities.


Based on a sample of more than 32,000 participants who were assessed by both the model and one or two friends, the researchers found that the model, using just 10 likes, was more accurate than a work colleague. With 70 likes, it was more accurate than a friend or roommate; with 150, more accurate than a family member; and with 300, more accurate than a spouse.


The model, the researchers said, was particularly adept at “predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes and physical health.” The real-world efficacy of the approach, however, has been called into question.


When Cambridge Analytica approached the Psychometrics Center about using its models, the center declined. Cambridge Analytica then turned to Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at Cambridge University who was familiar with the center’s work. Dr. Kogan developed a Facebook app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” a quiz similar to myPersonality, and used it to harvest data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles. Of those, 30 million contained enough information to generate personality profiles. Only 270,000 users authorized Dr. Kogan’s app to have access to their data, and all were told that their information was being used for academic research.

当剑桥分析公司向心理测量中心申请使用它的模型时,该中心拒绝了。剑桥分析公司随后求助于剑桥大学(Cambridge University)的心理学教授亚历山大·科根(Aleksandr Kogan),后者非常熟悉该中心的工作。科根博士开发了一款名为thisisyourdigitallife的Facebook应用程序,这是一个类似于myPersonality的测试,用来收集了5000多万个Facebook简介的数据。其中3000万个简介包含了足够的信息,可以生成个性概述。只有27万名用户授权科根博士的应用程序获取他们的数据,所有人都被告知他们的信息用于学术研究。

Cambridge then pitched its services to potential political and commercial clients, ranging from Mastercard and the New York Yankees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

随后,剑桥分析公司向潜在的政治和商业客户宣传自己的服务,包括万事达卡(Mastercard)、纽约扬基队(New York Yankees),以及参谋长联席会议(Joint Chiefs of Staff)等。

Facebook has now banned Cambridge Analytica from its platform, as well as its parent company and Dr. Kogan. In Facebook’s eyes, Dr. Kogan’s infraction was not collecting the data, but giving it to Cambridge Analytica.


“Although Kogan gained access to this information in a legitimate way and through the proper channels that governed all developers on Facebook at that time, he did not subsequently abide by our rules,” Facebook’s deputy general counsel said in a statement on Friday.


By handing over that information to a private company, Facebook said, Dr. Kogan violated its terms of service.


Facebook in 2015 changed its policies, including altering rules about how third-party apps can gain access to information about users’ friends. But user data collected through such apps over the years probably remains in the wild, not to mention the models that can continue to be used to target people around the world.