More Creepy Facebook:
The firm considered scoring how emotionally stable its users were to help it target ads at them. Facebook explored unpicking personalities to target ads. Facebook has considered profiling its users' personalities and using the information to target adverts. A patent filed by the social network describes how personality characteristics, including emotional stability, could be determined from people's messages and status updates.
'Status updates' The BBC has seen emails from Mr Eckles and other Facebook staff to University of Cambridge psychologists in which they discuss analysis of data to infer personality traits, and talk of using such research to improve the product for users and advertisers. It says the personality characteristics could then be stored in a user's profile and used "to select news stories, advertisements, or recommendations of actions presented to the user".
He acknowledged that "psychographic [advertising] targeting raises some distinctive ethical concerns" but said he was doubtful it would ever have been effective. The Cambridge Psychometrics Centre has been banned from the platform while Facebook investigates allegations that it misused data. The centre denies the allegation that it handed data gathered from a personality quiz for academic research to the commercial company Cubeyou.
We have had several conversations and meetings with Facebook researchers going back as far as 2011," said a spokesman for the Psychometrics Centre. "However, Facebook has chosen not to publish its research, and therefore users will be unaware how their data may be being used."
During congressional hearings earlier this month, Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg appeared to link the two cases, saying "we do need to know whether there was something bad going on at Cambridge University overall".
Academics at the Cambridge Psychometrics Centre published an influential paper in 2013 about predicting personality from Facebook likes, the result of research which had been under way for some years. The BBC has seen a 2011 email from Prof Eckles, then a researcher at Facebook, to the Cambridge academics expressing interest in their work. He describes undertaking similar research. "We have been using analysis of linguistic data to infer personality traits,"
Two years later in 2013, another Facebook employee wrote to the Cambridge academics, apparently unaware of the previous contact. Srikant Ayyar wrote that he had read their recent paper with interest and continued: "Our group does similar work with the goal of improving our product for people who use it and advertisers. …..we are growing to keep pace with Facebook growth and growth in the data we collect."