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Data Mining And The Social Web

1717 words - 7 pages

Data Mining is a powerful tool that is designed to gather large sets of data at incredible speed and analyze them. Most companies use this tool to better understand their customer’s habits as well as their interests. Advertisers love this tool because it allows unprecedented amount of access to information. Most people are unaware that their data is being mined, bundled, and sold by a company to third party advertisers in order to make targeted ads more effective. This is a problematic practice because users are unaware that in most social media sites such as Facebook, this tool is used (Jessica Reyman “User Data on the Social Web: Authorship, Agency, and Appropriation”). Hidden deep into most terms of service is the right to sell and mine your information to third parties, because most people are unaware that this is the status quo of how social media and other sites make their money. It presents a potential privacy concern for users because they did not consciously consent to have their user information mined and sold. Data mining itself is a power tool in advertising, however does question is does the use and creation of Data mining algorithms have the potential to lead to privacy violations when it is used to create targeted advertisements?
Facebook is a social media site that boasts 500 million users worldwide making this company one of the largest social media sites in the world. Facebook has had a myriad of its own controversies concerning how it addresses its users’ privacy. One such instance is how its’ terms of service (terms of service is what the user agrees to in order to use the service) is written in confusing legal jargon as many other sites in order to protect the owner’s rights. The section that has caused the most controversy is Facebook’s privacy policy. It makes two distinct categories of its user’s data. One category is labeled “content and information” which is the category you own and “data” which the information Facebook owns and sells to advertisers. This data includes your name, e-mail address, birthday, and other personal information (Jessica Reyman “User Data on the Social Web: Authorship, Agency, and Appropriation.) In a Jessica Reymen research paper it states that a “2008 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University researchers regarding the difficulty of reading and comprehending lengthy and complicated terms-of-use agreements found that, based on an analysis of a large sample of policies, it would take an average user seventy-six workdays per year to read all privacy policies on every Website visited (McDonald and Cranor). Furthermore,
what is potentially more problematic for users is that terms-of-use policies may change at a moment’s notice.” This presents a potential conflict of interest because its users do not own their personal information, have no control of how this information is presented, nor how it is sold and to whom it is sold. In the terms-of-service this information is not clearly...

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