On Wednesday The New York Times health blog mentioned a University of Texas study on the accuracy of people's Facebook personas to real life. I love that a serious study is being conducted regarding Facebook usage, and think it sometimes gets short shrift when people talk about online networking.
The U of Texas study suggests that, perhaps surprisingly, people's genuine personality traits can be accurately deduced from the persona they present via their Facebook profile. I would suspect though that a natural effect of finding participants who have sufficient Facebook activity to give a personality assessment is that the sample would skew toward extroverts. But, assuming the study's conclusions are accurate, it also has implications from a networking perspective.
Interesting career and collaborative opportunities can come from some of the most unexpected places, and Facebook is helpful in keeping tabs on interesting people. I tend to use mine as a sort of über Rolodex tool in that I can keep the contact information for people I meet in one place. If one can count the profile information as a good indicator of personality, it would be possible to get a feel for how they might fit in to the culture of a potential new workplace or how they might mesh with a development team for a project you may potentially collaborate on.
If used right, one might be able to reconsider the use of a Facebook page as another tool for networking. Perhaps this is part of a larger Gen Y trend to be comfortable mixing the personal and the professional, but I like the idea that people are taking a personal online social network seriously to study its effects, and can hope that that information will encourage people to rethink how they use them.