There’s no question that your phone says a lot about you. How could it not, given that it’s permanently attached to your hand, even when you’re in the bathroom? (Don’t lie, everyone does it.) But a new study says that they can tell your age, sex and income from just looking at your apps, and I’m officially kind of freaked out.
In a new study published on Monday in the in the online journal arXiv, researchers at Aalto University in Finland and the Qatar Computing Research Institute used the demographics of more than 3,700 people cross-referenced with app usage and ascertained apps and demographic characteristics correlated. Using their findings, “they then found that they could predict a user’s gender, age, marital status and income with between 61- and 82-percent accuracy”, according to The Washington Post.
The paper decided to put the metrics to the test and created a quiz based on the research’s findings, which I of course took. My results: “Single guy older than 32 who makes more than $52,000/year.”
Let’s break it down:
Over 32: A lady never tells her age
Makes Over $52,000 a year: Yes
So…let’s call it a 50% correct rate. Now, I suppose I’m not “typical.” I actually don’t have a lot of apps on my phone because clutter bothers me. I’ll download things, use them, delete them, and then re-download from the mythical cloud when I need them again. According to the paper, that’s about right; they say the tool is “not perfectly accurate, particularly if you don’t have a lot of apps on your phone … but it should help illustrate exactly how much we’re inadvertently letting advertisers and app-makers know.”
Which is kind of freaky, when you think about it this way: “Studying the predictability of demographics … points out privacy implications of users allowing apps to access their list of installed apps,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Many users undoubtedly do not carefully review the permissions that the apps they install require, and even less, understand the scope of the information that can be inferred from the data accessible by the apps.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be deleting all of the apps from my phone. As a single guy over 32 who makes more than $52,000, I don’t need those app people knowing all of my business..
[via The Washington Post]