The Privacy Debate
Today when people talk about the plethora of data available it is often from a positive perspective. This viewpoint is focused is on the strategic insight opportunities enabled by truck-loads of data. However, we’ve all heard the quote most famously referenced in the movie Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Social media giant, Facebook, has recently been hit with a class-action lawsuit alleging they violated users’ rights by data mining private messages. Two plaintiffs claim the site scans private correspondence between users for links to third-party websites, sharing that information with the likes of “advertisers, marketers and other data aggregators.”
Whether Facebook is guilty or not, this raises some important questions. First, where should the line be drawn when it comes to quality data mining and consumer privacy?
Where’s the line?
Michalis Michael (@DigitalMR_CEO), CEO at DigitalMR, believes that “only data on public sites should be mined”.
Annie Pettit (@LoveStats), VP at Conversition, has a few thoughts on this:
How safe is online data…honestly?
I asked a few valuable people in the industry for their opinion:
“People should never share anything online that they do not want other people to know. This includes things you don’t want your boss, your mother, your spouse, or your neighbors. This includes confidential emails and reports to clients. Always assume that your data will be purposefully or accidentally widely shared. I say this in pretty much every presentation on social media I give.”
-Annie Pettit (@LoveStats), VP at Conversition
“Web crawling and analytical technology has been around for ten years at least, so if a consumer puts it online, they should have no expectation of a right to privacy for the information they freely share. Consumers have become complacent about ‘give to get’ informational exchanges online and forget that like chocolate, one slip of the lip means it stays on your hips (or online) virtually forever!
For this reason, private forums and private networks should be highly diligent about the security of these private communities lest they lose the trust placed in them by their members and/or open themselves up to lawsuits.”
-Leslie Ament (@Hypatia_LeslieA), SVP Research & Principal Analyst at Hypatia Research Group
I think Facebook’s lawsuit brings up a few important things for researchers to think about. At what point are researchers crossing the line in the digital/social data mining process? (social lines and legal lines)
Tell us what you think!
- Do you think Facebook crossed the line? (if these allegations are true)
- In your opinion, where should the line be drawn when it comes to quality data mining and consumer privacy?
- Do you honestly believe there is such a thing as private conversations in the social/digital world?