Have you ever paid attention to the ads on the side of your Facebook page? Have you noticed random tweets or foods from companies you love to shop with? Even companies you’ve never heard of before? Does this creep you out? Have you ever thought about how these ads ending up in your view?
Altough data mining is a new term, the process or practice of data mining is not. Data mining is described as the process of large stores automatically searching to discover patterns and trends of Internet user. Data miners collect this data using information from Facebook pages, Twitter pages, online purchases, even Internet searches. Even now when you go shopping at the mall, stores like Victoria Secret asks for your email in an effort to collect data. Have you ever asked an associate what did they need your email for when purchasing at a store? I have! Her response was something to the reference of them tracking the purchases I’ve made in stores so that when or if a sale for those products come up, I’ll receive an email about the sale. So say that I go into Victoria Secret and buy a bra and some make up, within the next few weeks I’ll be bombarded with emails from Victoria Secret on every bra that comes out.
Some advantages of data mining is that companies already know what you’re looking for while shopping on certain sites, which makes online shopping a lot easier and quicker. It also helps with marketing, helping companies build campaigns from the results of profitable products. Some disadvantages are privacy issues. How do we know that out information isn’t being misused or can’t get hacked? Also, data can be misused or even be inaccurate,
So, are data miners collecting to much of our information? Is this harmful to us? In Joel Stein’s article, Russell Glass states the newness of this industry is what scares people. Ryan Calo, a standard law school professor, argues that data mining does no actual damage. Many believe that the real problem with data mining is when data is wrong. Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology says that “It’s one thing to see bad ads because of bad information about you. It’s another thing if you’re not getting a credit card or a job because of bad information.”
I personally agree with Ryan Calo, I don’t think there is any “real damage or harm” caused by data mining. But I do believe there should be some type of options to people that don’t want information collected every time they log onto their computer or touch a button on their phone. It’s almost as scary as being followed and a stalker knowing your every move. Everybody is not comfortable with sharing information.
Turkle refers to data mining as a panopticon; a circular prison invented by the 18th century philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, where you can’t tell if you’re being observed, so you assume that you always are. Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for Electrical Frontier Foundation, says that back in the day we were “private by default, public by effort.” Nowadays it’s the other way around.
The Internet is becoming more and more open. Many miners believe that Facebook has the most valuable trove of data ever assembled. Data mining companies “scope” all of your personal data that’s not set to private and sells it to any outside party that’s interested.
So what happens when those data sets are used for life transactions? Do you think that the Federal Trade Commission should put more effort into “protecting consumers?” What information should be available for public use and what shouldn’t?