Facebook profiling

by Henry Farrell on October 27, 2007

Republican Internet consultant Patrick Ruffini “points”:http://www.techpresident.com/blog/entry/11033/radiohead_republicans to this “fascinating resource”:http://www.facebook.com/flyers/create.php for figuring out the raw numbers of liberal, moderate and conservative Facebook users interested in a specific issue. Don’t try to create a flyer or whatever – just go to the “targetting” section, type the topic that you are interested in into the keywords section, and see how the numbers change whether you click Liberal, Moderate and Conservative (there’s further microtargeting of cities etc available too). For example, about 2,520 self-declared liberal Facebook users declare blogging as one of their interests, as opposed to 1,320 moderates and 1,100 conservatives. 5,180 liberals show the good taste to declare My Bloody Valentine as one of their favourite bands, as opposed to 1,120 moderates, and only 340 conservatives. Less obviously, the number of liberals (7,300) and conservatives (7,580) who like bluegrass music is about the same1. Obviously, treat these numbers with extreme caution; there is _no way_ that Facebook users are a random sample of the population 2, but still, this promises much idle entertainment.

1 It occurs to me on re-reading this post that I’ve phrased this in a misleading way – obviously, if you wanted to make a serious point about this, you’d weight the absolute numbers or provide the odds ratios or whatever.
2 For one, the liberal-conservative ratio is skewed to liberals among Facebook users as compared to the ratio in the general population – there are just over 2.8 million self-identified liberal Facebook users and 2.18 million conservatives. Most survey evidence that I am aware of suggests that there are considerably more self-identified conservative Americans than liberal Americans (although the numbers of self-identified conservatives is dropping).



will 10.27.07 at 5:37 pm

“Only Shallow” is a work of towering genius. The rest of their oeuvre is merely good.


ben saunders 10.27.07 at 5:55 pm

Interesting, although can you include both ‘liberal’ and ‘very liberal’ in the search at once? And what of the many ‘others’?


alwsdad 10.27.07 at 6:01 pm

Clearly the only conclusion is that Facebook discriminates against conservatives.


terence 10.27.07 at 6:54 pm

That annoyed me slightly when I set up on facebook: no choice if you’re a leftie except ‘liberal’ or (the goofy sounding) ‘very liberal’. So if you’re a social democrat, or even a left-liberal, not to mention a socialist, you’ve got to pick ‘Other’…
…I know I’m sad, but I ever so like tidiness.


R. Vangala 10.27.07 at 8:27 pm

“Loveless” is my favorite rock/pop album. Perhaps I should publicly declare that I am a liberal so as to raise the number of liberals on Facebook with good taste to 5,181.


Nick L 10.27.07 at 9:29 pm

re: lack of left wing political choices on facebook: there is a rumour that this is as a result of the founder’s anti-socialist leanings.


thompsaj 10.28.07 at 8:27 am

excellent! I contend that it’s logically impossible to play only shallow too loud. I suspect that’s the majority opinion.


SG 10.29.07 at 8:07 am

860 liberals in the US like “New Young Pony Club”, but only 80 conservatives.

nearly 7000 liberals in the US like puppies, but only 3000 or so conservatives.

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