by Melanie C Gallo, PhD
(Photo by Dooder / Freepik)
Step One: Don’t take a personality test on Facebook. The End.
I heard a saying recently that when an egg is cracked from the outside, something is being destroyed but when an egg cracks from the inside something is growing. As a business psychology professional, a specialist in the study of personality in groups , and a practitioner of scientifically based personality testing my goal is to use my expertise along with the right tools (ie. personality tests) to help people grow on the inside...or crack their egg from the inside. I work hard to NOT give clients the answers. Instead, my job is to ask the right questions and provide the right insight so that you can figure out the answers and develop on your own. Needless to say, I was disturbed to learn of the recent misuse of personality testing to secretly gather the profile information from Facebook users.
Facebook’s Friends and Their Shenanigans
Without going into all of the twists and turns that led to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg sitting in front of a congressional committee, here’s the short version:
In 2014, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University researcher worked with the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, to develop a personality test app based on the Big Five personality assessment.
Cambridge University was approached about the project first, but declined to be involved. So Dr. Kogan accepted the project independently.
The app was designed to capture the personality profile information of Facebook users. The app also mined additional personal information from user’s Facebook profiles.
The (paid) Facebook participants took the “tests”, but they were not informed about how this info would be used nor were they informed that their personal data was also being gathered.
Not only were survey participants’ profiles compromised, the profiles of their friends were also affected.
The data ended up in the hands of (was allegedly sold to) Cambridge Analytica and was allegedly used to affect the 2016 presidential election.
Dr. Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook are all blaming each other.
Zuckerberg’s on the stand and over 50 million personal profiles have been compromised.
50 million Broken Eggs
Many times, tests intended for research, personal growth, and fun claim to offer test-takers an opportunity to learn a little more about themselves. The goal in taking a personality test should be growth and development, but without post assessment application, you’re often just left with the question “So now what?”
For example, one of my preferred assessments is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The value in taking the MBTI or any similar assessment isn’t in taking the test itself. It is in determining your own personality preferences while working through the professional feedback process.
People in the Facebook situation were actually paid an incentive for their participation. Although these types of online tests may be fun and often inexpensive or free, there is greater value in scientifically validated personality assessments that include some sort of post-assessment coaching or follow up. These offer more than just a label, a score or a category for the participant to be grouped into.
In my profession, my responsibility to my assessment clients is to help them break through their personal development “egg” from the inside out. Unfortunately, Facebook and its colleagues did the opposite. They used the information without regard for personal development - in essence, crushing over 50 million eggs.
A Real Personlity Assessment
Are you interested in learning more about: (1) how you prefer to direct/receive energy, (2) how you prefer to take in information, (3) how you prefer to come to make decisions and come to conclusions, and (4) how you prefer to approach the outside world? Let me help you understand your own personality preferences while helping you understand the personality preferences of others. Contact me today to schedule your individual personality assessment or team workshop today!
Professional. Confidential. Credible.