The following story caught my attention in this morning's Globe (actually syndicated from the NY Times). Apparently some social scientists are taking advantage of Facebook's vast database of personal information to conduct research on human behavior. Interestingly, according to the article, users are not being asked whether they would like to participate in the research. Here's an excerpt:
Each day, about 1,700 juniors at an East Coast college log on to Facebook.com to accumulate "friends," compare movie preferences, share videos, and exchange cybercocktails and kisses. Unwittingly, these students have become the subjects of academic research.
To study how personal tastes, habits, and values affect the formation of social relationships (and how social relationships affect tastes, habits, and values), a team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, is monitoring the Facebook profiles of an entire class of students at one college, which they declined to name for privacy reasons.
"One of the holy grails of social science is the degree to which taste determines friendship, or to which friendship determines taste," said Jason Kaufman, an associate professor of sociology at Harvard and a member of the research team. "Do birds of a feather flock together, or do you become more like your