Uncovering sexual preferences by data-mining Lovehoney sex-toy sales

Apr 22, 2015
Internet
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UK sex-toy retailer Lovehoney allowed researcher Jon Millward to data-mine its huge database of over 1,000,000 sex-toy purchases and 45,000 reviews, in order to see what he could infer about Britons’ sexual proclivities from the things they bought.

butt-plug-sales-by-gender-and-relationship-status

Millward worked with a supposedly de-identified data-set, though this is an extremely controversial subject in privacy research — he got first names and order-details, which seem to be difficult to re-identify. In any event, the conclusions he drew, which only work with aggregated numbers and stats, are definitely de-identified. Millward was able to compare the overall data to a smaller set from 60,000 of Lovehoney’s reviewer community, which includes gender, marital status, sexual orientation.

Millward focuses on the anal toy category at some length, as it’s both a taboo subject and a hot retail category, suggesting that there’s a lot behind bedroom doors that we don’t talk about.

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