Jarter Jargon

Posts Tagged ‘Data Mining

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 8.23.29 AM

Facebook recently rolled out a new feature: adding emotions, things you’re watching, eating, reading, and listening to (among a few others) to your status post. It seems like a fun way to let people know how you’re doing or what you’re doing. It fosters conversations within your own community and connects you to others who could be watching/eating/drinking/listening to the same. But underneath, it serves a much larger purpose. As Josh Constine notes,

“Along with being fun for users, it could be a big help to advertisers, though Facebook tells me it’s not piping this data into its ad engine just yet. By selecting your current activity instead of merely writing it out, you structure data for Facebook. That could eventually help it to connect you with advertisers who want to reach people who frequently watch TV and movies, or listen to music, or eat at restaurants.”

If you listened to a certain song, ads for the artist’s new album could be targeted towards you. Or if you are the type to watch a lot of movies, Netflix could target ads towards you.

Facebook does a great job of mining information from you without you even knowing. Third party companies track your purchase habits. When you add a new friend, you are prompted with a question about whether or not you know that person outside of Facebook. You can set geo-tags on posts to let people (and Facebook) know where you are. These are just a few of the features that Facebook uses to learn as much about you as possible.

A little creepy, right?

A few months back, Facebook rolled out their Graph Search. It lets you search for people in a more specific (some say “unsettling”) way. You can search for people who like to cycle. You can look for people who like to cycle that live in your city. You can look for people who like to cycle that live in your city and are friends with your friends. You see where I’m going? It puts front and center just how much data we have committed to this social network.

With people freaking out about online privacy and security, it sure amazes me how openly they share information and how openly they allow Facebook to gather information. Although the latter, there isn’t really a way around it. The way Facebook structures itself makes it hard NOT to have your information mined out. Pages you like, people you friend, your interests, everything plays a role into how Facebook crawls across your profile and archives data. Although scary, it can be humorous (second link is now defunct).

So be careful about what you put on the internet. In Facebook’s case, every design mechanism plays a role.

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