OPF in the Media

News and blog posts featuring the Online Privacy Foundation.


Why Facebook Dark Ads Aren’t Going Away

By Jay McGregor
Forbes | 31 July 2017

Facebook ‘dark ads’ (a political advert tailored to a specific personality type that only that individual can see) have the power to swing political opinions, according to a new study. Given their effectiveness, and the availability of data that fuels them, dark ads aren’t going anywhere.

Research conducted by the Online Privacy Foundation revealed that targeting specific personality types, with bespoke political adverts that play on particular concerns, can have a very real impact on the individual on the receiving end.

‘Dark ads’ on Facebook effectively sway political opinion, study claims

By WARC Staff
WARC | 31 July 2017

‘Dark ads’ based on publicly available interests on Facebook can be used to sway political opinions in an almost undiscoverable manner, a new study suggests.

The research presented at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, from the Online Privacy Foundation, used psychographic profiles of individual voters gathered from their publicly stated interests to hone messages to appeal to certain personality types, the Guardian reported.


Facebook ‘dark ads’ can swing political opinions, research shows

By Alex Hern
The Guardian | 31 July 2017

Ads targeted using profiles generated from individual voters’ stated interests are more successful in shifting attitudes according to Online Privacy Foundation

Using “psychographic” profiles of individual voters generated from publicly stated interests really does work, according to new research presented at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.


How to turn Facebook into a weaponised AI propaganda machine

(Previously titled “First proof that Facebook dark ads could swing an election”)

By Timothy Revell
New Scientist | 28 July 2017

Could Facebook really tip the balance in an election? Over the past year firms like AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica have been credited with using AI-targeted ads on social media to help swing the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election respectively. But a lack of evidence meant we have never known whether the technology exists to make this possible.

Now the first study detailing the process from start to finish is finally shedding some light. “This is the first time that I’ve seen all the dots connected,” says Joanna Bryson, an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Bath, UK.


Did your personality determine whether you voted for Brexit? Research suggests so

By Julia Rampen
NewStatesman | 15 May 2017

The Online Privacy Foundation found Leave voters were significantly more likely to be authoritarian and conscientious.

Before referendum day, I said the winners would be those who told the most convincing lies,” Paul Flynn, a Labour MP, wrote in these pages. “Leave did.” The idea that those who voted for Brexit were somehow manipulated is widely accepted by the Remain camp. The Leave campaign, so the argument goes, played on voters’ fears and exploited their low numeracy. And new research from the Online Privacy Foundation suggests this argument may, in part at least, be right.


Brexiters And Bremainers Also Divided On Rights To Online Privacy

Eurasiareview | 15 July 2016

New research shows EU Referendum voters are also deeply divided along the same lines over “Nothing to hide, Nothing to fear” privacy argument.

Research by the Online Privacy Foundation shows that UK citizens who voted in favour of Leaving the EU were significantly more likely than their Remain-voting counterparts to agree with the statement “With regards to Internet privacy, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

The Type Of People Who Get Suckered By A Twitter Bot

By Kashmir Hill
Forbes | 07 August 2013

If a seemingly sweet old lady named Sybil tweeted at you asking which super powers you wish you had, would you answer her? If you would, you might the kind of person who could be tricked into bantering with a Twitter bot — i.e., a social networking account powered by artificial intelligence.

“There’s lots of research about detecting Twitter bots,” says Chris Sumner of the Online Privacy Foundation. (E.g.) “But not of the kind of people likely to interact with them.”


Twitter Usage, Psychopathy and the Media

By Jordan Devine
Mercado Magazine | 04 January 2013

Researchers behind a July 2012 report on the relationship between Twitter usage and psychopathy have been quick to distance themselves from the media’s swift refocusing of the report’s findings. Chris Sumner and Randall Wald gave a talk at DEF CON 20 titled, “Can Twitter Help Expose Psychopathic Killer’s Traits?” Despite sober findings, the press was quick to glamorize the story.


Move to digitize Iowa sex offender mug shots raises privacy concerns

By Mike Wiser
Sioux City Journal.com | 16 December 2012

DES MOINES | All of Iowa’s more than 5,600 registered sex offenders could soon have their mug shots digitized and saved to a database that law enforcement officials could match to photos from an array of other sources, such as security cameras and Facebook, with a few mouse clicks.

Using Twitter Content to Predict Psychopathy

An ever-growing number of users share their thoughts and experiences using Twitter, and even though Twitter posts contain a small amount of content to convey significant information these messages can be combined to build a larger picture of the user posting them.

Losing the Meaning of Privacy

By Fabiano Strey

The meaning of privacy does not change from one day to the other, and should actually never change. However, it looks like that nowadays people forgot what privacy is or simply does not care anymore, mainly on the online world.

Psychopaths On Twitter

By Toby McCasker
AskMen | 1 November 2012

If you’re not on Twitter, though, your risk of having your vivisected body dissolved in a bathtub full of lime in Hell’s Kitchen is also dramatically reduced.

World’s Top Data Scientists Open Doors To Big-Cash Contests

By Parmy Olson
Forbes | 13 September 2012

Xavier Conort is a French-born actuary who runs a consultancy in Singapore. When he’s not assessing risk as part of his day job, he’s competing in global, online contests. It’s not poker or gaming, but still a sport of aggressive mental display: creating algorithms that could predict whether you or I will default on a loan, like a song or make a health insurance claim.

These contests are run by Kaggle, a platform for companies and organizations who offer cash prizes for predictive models.

Can Twitter Tell If You’re a Psychopath?

By Mike Wehner
Mashable | 29 August 2012

There are probably a few people on your Twitter feed or Facebook friends list that you consider “crazy,” and a new study by says you might be right.

These Researchers Think They Can Identify Psychopaths From Their Tweets [STUDY]

By Lauren Dugan
mediabistro | 29 August 2012

Think you’re playing safe with your tweets? Think again.

Are your tweets full of $#@*? You might be a psychopath

By Hamish McNicol
The New Zealand Herald | 28 August 2012

Using foul language in your tweets indicates you are a psychopath, a new study shows.

Tweets can reveal psychopaths

By Times of India
The Times of India | 28 August 2012

You can use Twitter postings to spot whether someone is a psychopath, especially if he frequently uses words such as ‘die’, ‘kill’ and ‘bury’, a new research has claimed.

How your tweets may prove you’re a psychopath

By Chris Matyszczyk
c|net News| 27 August 2012

Scientists believe that using words like “die” and “bury” on Twitter indicate that you might have very difficult tendencies.

Are you a psychopath? Scientists say it all depends on your TWEETS

By Alex Gore
Daily Mail Online | 27 August 2012

Your tweets can reveal whether you are a psychopath, with the frequent use of words such as ‘die’, ‘kill’ and ‘bury’ among the key warning signs.

Twitter postings can reveal psychopathy, FAU researchers say

By Scott Travis
Sun Sentinel | 26 August 2012

Your Twitter postings may reveal not only your hobbies, politics and celebrity obsessions, but also whether you are a psychopath, according to researchers at Florida Atlantic University.

Is Data Science Scary?

By Margit Zwemer
Kaggle | 1 August 2012

The coverage of the recently finished Online Privacy Foundation Psychopathy Prediction based on Twitter Usage challenge has made me start to wonder: Is data science scary?

Psychopathy Tweets: Too Many Statistics, Not Enough Proof of Concept

By Scot Terban
Infosec Island | 1 August 2012

On Sunday, Defcon 20 had a talk that I had previously written about on the idea of using statistical analysis of word use to determine psychopathy in individuals online.

Mit Twitter auf Psychopathensuche, Jagd nach dem Attentäter (Using Twitter to find psychopaths, chasing the assassin)

By Oliver Kühn

Wäre James Homes auf Twitter aktiv gewesen, hätte die Tragödie in Aurora angeblich verhindert werden können. Führt der Kurznachrichtendienst auf die Spur von Psychopathen?

Detecting Psychopathy via Tweets? A Flawed Premise…

By Scot Terban
Infosec Island | 26 July 2012

A paper and talk being given at Defcon 20 this week has gotten people all worked in in a lather within the news arena and has piqued my interest. The talk centers around the premise that one may be able to determine psychopathic traits (psychopathic and sociopathic behaviors) from of all things, the analysis of tweets.

Sie reden häufiger über Essen, Hass und Sex Erkennt man Psychopathen beim Twittern? (“You often talk about food, sex and hate. Can one spot Psychopaths from their Tweeting?)

By Daniel Lüders
Bild.de | 25 July 2012

Psychisch gestörte Menschen leben in ihrer ganz eigenen Welt, zu der andere kaum Zugang haben. Und nicht jedem merkt man sofort an, dass mit ihm etwas „nicht stimmt“.

Twitter can be used to detect psychopathy: study

By Meena Hart Duerson
New York Daily News | 25 July 2012

Can you spot a psychopath just by his tweets?

That’s the question a team of researchers have honed in on this year, as part of a larger project analyzing what the posts of nearly 3,000 Twitter users revealed about their personalities.

#DefCon 2012: FUD over Twitter Psycho talk — 5 observations/a>

By Bill Brenner
CSO Online | 24 July 2012

It happens every year before DefCon: All the big media outlets latch on to one of the upcoming talks with headlines that read like the preview to a blow-’em-up summer movie. In one such case this year, the presenters delivering the talk are calling out the media — Fox News, especially — for making FUD of their findings.

Psychopaths can be spotted on Twitter, study says

By Fox News
Fox News | 23 July 2012

Social media can reveal much about an individual’s personality but now researchers believe they may be able to spot psychopaths on Twitter.

Study: Twitter analysis can be used to detect psychopathy

By Olivia Solon
Slashdot | 23 July 2012

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has been studying whether it’s possible to detect psychopathy in people’s tweets.

Analyzing Tweets To Identify Psychopaths

Posted by Timothy
Slashdot | 21 July 2012

Researchers presenting at Defcon next week have developed a psychopathy prediction model for Twitter. It analyzes linguistic tells to rate users’ levels of narcissism, machiavellianism and other similarities to Patrick Bateman.

Using Twitter To Identify Psychopaths

By Kashmir Hill
Forbes | 20 July 2012

People’s nasty traits have a way of revealing themselves on social networks: in writing. Or rather in how they write.

Finding the Twitter psychopath ratio

By Natalie Apostolou
The Register | 8 July 2012

The accidental psychological foibles of celebrities and colleagues are entertaining by-products of social media. Now a new study aims to nail a link between various psychopathic behaviours and tweeting.

When Social Media Mining Gets It Wrong

By Erica Naone
Technology Review | 9 August 2011

Big problems could be ahead if we rely on conclusions drawn from individuals’ social-networking data.

Just how easy is it to hack into your life?

By Neil Tweedie
The Telegraph | 11 June 2011

From Facebook to pins and passwords, invading our lives couldn’t be easier, finds Neil Tweedie.

Facebook experiment launched to uncover personality

By Adam Richards
Basingstoke Observer | 13 April 2011

Chris Sumner, 39, from Chineham, is conducting the first survey of its kind in a bid to find out how a person’s personality is revealed through their online activities.

Special investigation: It took just one hour for internet experts to find out almost every private detail of this woman’s life

By Steve Boggan
Daily Mail | 11 September 2010

As I sit writing this, I am feeling vaguely grubby — guilty even — in the way a neurotic husband might after hiring a gumshoe to go trawling through his wife’s secrets.
There is a 15-page report in front of me chronicling virtually every aspect of my girlfriend’s life: past and present.

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