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FRANCE-ILLUSTRATION-COMPUTER-FACEBOOK-FILES

Facebook’s getting sketchier by the day.

If ongoing privacy issues and profile whitening apps weren’t enough, now the social media giant has found a way to predict users’ ethnicity, reports SmartBlog.

Their methods seem simple enough: combine U.S. Census data with a list of users’ first and last names. The team narrowed its analysis down to the country’s four largest ethnic groups: whites, blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Latinos. With the help of the census records, they found, for instance, that someone with the last name “Mueller” has a 97 percent chance of being white, while a person with the last name “Washington” has over an 89 percent chance of being black.

First names make the search even more accurate. The name LaToya, for instance? Probably black.

The findings were instrumental in predicting users’ friend networks, which all boils down to more advertising revenue for the company. Researchers found that users are more diverse than a few years ago, but are more likely to be friends with people of the same ethnicity. Same goes for romantic relationships. So, yeah, more proof that online social life mirrors that of the offline world.

Click here to read more at colorlines.com

Click here to see gallery of 10 Most Clicked Stories of 2009

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