Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Rainbow Connections

While the rest of the civilized world seems to be on Facebook, I, along with the Tasadays and certain members of the Trobriand Islanders, have thus far resisted its siren call. It's not just because I'm antisocial; it's more because I'm not really interested to know that the dicks I hated in high school are still alive. Fat, ugly, and pathetic - but still alive, damn them.

Also, because "Discretion is the quintessence of propriety" is one of my favorite quotations of all time. Personally, if I wanted all my professional contacts, living family members, and remaining potential future-ex-wives to know I occasionally smoke the pole, I'd have recorded it on HD and sold it in Quiapo.

This is a non-issue, of course, for those of us who are out. But it does present a bit of a dilemma for those of us who are not. Belaboring the obvious, I might genuinely like someone who is brave enough not to hide his sexual preference from the world, but having him - and by extension his friends - on my list would be ticklish at best, damning at worst. Which is why, of course, the gay gods created Friendster, PlanetRomeo, and the late, lamented g4m.

Anyhow, those closeted/confused/unsure among us on FB should find this development... interesting :

"Are you quietly stalking someone and too dense to figure out their sexual orientation from Google searches, Flickr party photos and real-life gossip? Well, a couple of MIT geniuses invented just the tool for you.

The best part of Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree's software, created for a research project, is that you don't even need to "friend" your target to figure out if he's gay. You simply need access to his friends list, which is made public by default on Facebook. In the students' test, which examined 947 profiles, the program identified all 10 of 10 men the students knew to be gay, but who had not declared so on Facebook, according to a summary in the Boston Globe."

If you're too lazy to click links, the Boston Globe summary says:

"Discussions of privacy often focus on how to best keep things secret, whether it is making sure online financial transactions are secure from intruders, or telling people to think twice before opening their lives too widely on blogs or online profiles. But this work shows that people may reveal information about themselves in another way, and without knowing they are making it public. Who we are can be revealed by, and even defined by, who our friends are: *if all your friends are over 45, you’re probably not a teenager; if they all belong to a particular religion, it’s a decent bet that you do, too. The ability to connect with other people who have something in common is part of the power of social networks, but also a possible pitfall. If our friends reveal who we are, that challenges a conception of privacy built on the notion that there are things we tell, and things we don’t.

The idea behind the MIT work, done in 2007, is as old as the adage that birds of a feather flock together. For years, sociologists have known of the “homophily principle” - the tendency for similar people to group together. People of one race tend to have spouses, confidants, and friends of the same race, for example. Jernigan and Mistree downloaded data from the Facebook network, choosing as their sample people who had joined the MIT network and were in the classes 2007-2011 or graduate students. They were interested in three things people frequently fill in on their social network profile: their gender, a category called “interested in” that they took to denote sexuality, and their friend links.

Using that information, they “trained” their computer program, analyzing the friend links of 1,544 men who said they were straight, 21 who said they were bisexual, and 33 who said they were gay. Gay men had proportionally more gay friends than straight men, giving the computer program a way to infer a person’s sexuality based on their friends."

Or as Friendster might say : "Show me your friends, and I'll show you how fruity you are."

Further down, the article states:

"Privacy has become a growing and evolving concern as social networks learn how to deal with the fact that they provide a resource that brings people together, but also may endanger privacy in ways they did not anticipate. Social networks like Facebook already give people power over that information, with privacy features that allow people to hide their profiles, and even make their list of friends invisible to outsiders, as well as from select friends.

But there are limits to online privacy, and ultimately, say some experts, people will simply have to weigh the costs and benefits of living online.

'You can do damage to your reputation with social networking data, and other people can do damage to you. I do think that there’s been a very fast learning curve - people are quickly learning the dos and don’ts of Internet behavior,' said Jason Kaufman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University who is studying a set of Facebook data. 'Potentially everything you ever do on the Internet will live forever. I like to think we’ll all learn to give each other a little more slack for our indiscretions and idiosyncrasies.' "

See you on Facebook.

Or not.

*Bold mine


  1. "While the rest of the civilized world seems to be on Facebook" how the hell did you know that? damn. you're good.

  2. @Herbs D. : Haha it's late and my sleep over the past three nights has been more broken than a mountaineer falling off Everest, so I can't tell if you're being sarcastic hehe.

    Anyhow - Facebook is the devil. Or hasn't your local preacher thundered about it yet?

  3. i dont do church. currently agnostic and is still slowly shifting to becoming a believer. nonetheless, i'd bet half my balls i'd be giving any shit to them preachers.

    dude. i've been beauty-sleep deprived for like 3 straights days now and sarcasm is already out of the vocabulary. i cant even do puns anymore. gaddemit.

    current time: 3:30ishy am. Needs to wake up at 7am

    conclusion: AWESOME :D

  4. What if you're a straight guy, a team leader working in a call center, in which half of the agents on the floor (or your team) are all gay?

  5. @Knox : Assuming all these gay agents on the straight guy's team are also on his FB friends list, the straight guy had better have more than enough female friends there as well to cancel out any "gay vibes" to outsiders.

    Statistics, like games of chance, are a matter of ratios. Statistics also give me a throbbing headache.

  6. the number of gay people on my facebook could be counted by the number of fingers in my hands. at least those are the ones that i know.

    It's sad really, I need to mingle with more people like me.

  7. @knox... all i know is that when a nurse works in a mental hospital for a few years, he picks up the small mannerisms of the patients and sooner or later he acts like one of them - he isn't mentally challenged - but his mannerisms mimic those who are... So, if you're surrounded by gay people all the time...

  8. @ eye_spy: Interesting indeed. Although personally, a simpler way of deducing a guy's sexual leanings on social networking sites would be to see how many shirtless guys he has as friends. The more shirtless camwhores, the greater the chances of winning.

    @engel : I said it on your blog, and I'll say it again. Face it, engel, you're doomed to be straight. Embrace your suppressed heterosexuality!

    @Rygel : We become the company we keep.

  9. i am one with the tasadays kasi wala rin akong facebook. ewan ko ba, feeling ko, masyado siyang intrusive at revealing. at this point, hindi pa ako handa na lubusang ibilad ang sarili ko. :)

  10. @ Aris : That's basically my sentiment, too. On blogs, we can choose what and how much to reveal about ourselves. We can share our most private thoughts and feelings under the protection of relative anonymity - much like a church confessional.

    Facebook would leave me a little too...open for comfort.

  11. interesting!

    i think you'll like HappySlip's video reg facebook -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV4PNwpqsCc

  12. @ Mr.Scheez: HAHAHAHAHA thanks for that link! I knew HappySlip is very popular on the net and I know how the moniker came about, but I haven't really watched her until now. She pretty much said everything I wanted to say, except she has the advantage of actually being on Facebook, unlike me.

    Pretty chick. Looks sharp, too. Hmmmm.....

  13. its en honor to be followed by ze rudeboy. (some keys dont work on my lptop nymore. guess wht.)

  14. ' wheeww.. that wuz a lot.. so even facebook now knows how to detect sexual preferences? what wud that be? guilt by association? =)
    - i admire people who uses their discretion in a manner that works for their advantage. that's why it's discretion in the first place, it's unique and exclusive to the person.. cool blog you have here sir.. keep 'em coming.. =)

  15. @ TheLastJedi : Hey there, and thanks for the visit! Haha sorry, my posts tend to be winding - an old sin from my English 11 classes that I haven't quite expunged.

    But don't worry - that Facebook Gaydar software hasn't been released to the public - yet.

  16. Ahahaha...nice entry.

  17. yeah, HappySlip is pretty. i'm gay pero malakas sex appeal nya saken.


  18. @ ultimatekyle: Thanks. Hope it was...informative.

    @ Mr. Komplikado: She is a menace and must be stopped! Smart, sexy, and sassy morenas are my weakness pa naman.

  19. as someone who has spent his adult life (and part of his childhood) refining the ability to gather information online, it is shocking how facebook can short-circuit otherwise complex obstacles to information flows as you've described.

    now, as for the devil: fundamental the marksman aims at himself.