Social media sites are now the most popular destination for Internet users, providing social scientists with a great opportunity to understand online behaviour. There are a growing number of research papers related to social media, a small number of which focus on personality prediction. To date, studies have typically focused on the Big Five traits of personality, but one area which is relatively unexplored is that of the anti-social traits of narcissism, Machiavellians and psychopathy, commonly referred to as the Dark Triad. This study explored the extent to which it is possible to determine anti-social personality traits based on Twitter use. This was performed by comparing the Dark Triad and Big Five personality traits of 2,927 Twitter users with their profile attributes and use of language. Analysis shows that there are some statistically significant relationships between these variables. Through the use of crowd sourced machine learning algorithms, we show that machine learning provides useful prediction rates, but is imperfect in predicting an individual's Dark Triad traits from Twitter activity. While predictive models may be unsuitable for predicting an individual's personality, they may still be of practical importance when models are applied to large groups of people, such as gaining the ability to see whether anti-social traits are increasing or decreasing over a population. Our results raise important questions related to the unregulated use of social media analysis for screening purposes. It is important that the practical and ethical implications of drawing conclusions about personal information embedded in social media sites are better understood. © 2012 IEEE.
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