Data Mining: Is this OK? Too bad…

 mining

Thank you for clicking on the link to read my response to this week’s lecture!  Using bit.ly, I have mined data about your click and plan to use that data to create content that engages my audience.  Is that OK with you?  Do I need to ask?  A lot of questions can arise when thinking about personal data that we forfeit to companies and government just simply by using our computers or personal devices.  The lecture gave us some things to think about, but this data is so large and overwhelming that I worry that we can never fully grasp just how much data is being collected about us at any given time.

I believe that anything that we interact with that is capable of transmitting data, probably is.  Purchase history, browsing information, social media posts, all sorts of different things can be used as valuable data for gaining an insight about consumer behavior or even human behavior.  Is this a breach of privacy?  Certainly.  The internet, to me, is a “public domain” of sorts where choosing to “drive down the information super highway” means that anyone who cares to collect and sort data about the way we drive, can.  Thanks to software, we can now collect and sort an amount of data that would shock most people.  There’s even a market for this data which has created entire industries designed around harvesting it.  Do I have concerns with this?  Sure.  Do I think the people that collect this data care? Not really, but I am going to discuss them anyway.

I think the line for inappropriate data collection should be when it can potentially hurt someone or can involve stealing from them.  Credit card activity is one that I am concerned with and is becoming more prevalent now that the “bad guys” are getting pretty good at mining data themselves.  I LOVE the recent dilemma Facebook has found itself in where it has researched the effects of exposing certain users to more negative posts in an effort to see if it could change their mood.  It did, and now people are mad about that study.  However, as the article points out, they are not mad enough to cancel their accounts.  But what was Facebook’s intent?  Did Facebook set out to upset people?  No, they set out to see if people would become upset.  Now because they did actually upset people, should I have a problem with that?  Well, I said I had a problem with people being hurt above, but this seems like a valid study to me and one Facebook is within their rights to perform…. AHHHHH! The dilemmas!

Finally, can I justify this behavior?  Yeah, I think so.  As I said before, the internet is a public domain of sorts and using it is not a right, it’s a privilege.   That privilege is not without certain responsibility (i.e.: forfeits of privacy) and if you don’t want to have data mined about you, good luck with that….. Me?  I just have too much fun exchanging information and data myself that I am not willing to sacrifice the ability to shop online from home, with my wife, on the TV, and have a package delivered within two business days for some privacy!  Thanks Urban Outfitters!  Feel free to use the information about my purchase to suggest more items I might like (just PLEASE secure my credit card information!).  At the end of the day, I suppose we just have to trust the intentions of the people gathering the data.  That shouldn’t be a problem, right?

(sorry that was a bit of a wordy post, but the ideas and thoughts are just flowing right now, great lecture!)

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One thought on “Data Mining: Is this OK? Too bad…

  1. Thanks Jake…and thanks for including the very timely Facebook example! Trust rears its head, once again in this course.

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