WEB & TECH / MAY. 12, 2014
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Big Data: Goodbye Privacy, Hello Personal Information Sharing

big data privacy

Big data raises numerous concerns related to privacy.

The cost of customized online features, closely targeted ads and website recommendations all deal with personal information. What are the issues surrounding privacy and data mining?

Is Big Data Intrusive?

The primary focus of big data is information, which can come from surveys, feedback forms, sign-ups and online memberships. These platforms are straightforward. The average consumer knows that by filling out such forms, it will sit in a large database, which will be used to personalize website settings and online experience.

Apart from basic forms and surveys, data can be extracted in very subtle ways. For example, a third party app that you authorized with Facebook can see your profile, check-ins and contacts. In most cases, people bypass these privacy warnings because individually, they aren’t very useful.

Big Data Combinations

The eye opener is that big data goes beyond individual forms and combines various personal elements together, enabling companies to create a highly detailed, personal profile without needing to talk to you personally.

For example, your Facebook contacts shows who your friends are, when you’re happy or sad based on your status updates. Your Foursquare check-ins show the places you like to visit, and the types of food you might like. Going further, your Twitter profile shows the times of the day you’re awake and active.

Based on the information above, it would be very easy to create an individual’s life map, complete with exact dates, times and accurate predictions. This is how businesses are using your personal, online information.

Pushing the Boundaries of Big Data

Some consumers may feel uncomfortable with the thought of advertising companies getting a hold of personal data. Many feel that their privacy is being compromised. Businesses that use big data simply counter such statements, saying that information was not forcefully taken. Instead it was given with proper privacy warnings under set terms. From this perspective, it’s hard to argue where companies draw the line when it comes to the use of personal profiles.

The Benefits of Big Data

Not everyone is against big data. While it can be a breach in privacy, many embrace it, and consider it as a trade off for digital convenience. From a business perspective, big data can lower risks related to ad campaigns, startups, expansion and product launches. This is another reason why companies are pushing big data as far as they can. In the long run, big data can substantially minimize risk due to extremely accurate information.

Many consumers find big data to be beneficial as well. Businesses use big data for customization and user enhancement. This means that a user will only be shown relevant content, and tailored searches or product recommendations. As a result, frustration is decreased, time is saved and relevance is increased.

Embracing the Inevitable

For those who are living a fast-paced lifestyle or are holding progressive careers, big data is making their goals more attainable. While the thought of a company knowing which TV shows you like to watch before going to sleep sounds creepy, many simply brush it off.

After all, big data is virtually unavoidable. Every Google search, email and SMS message all require some form of personal information to be sent out. On a lighter note, the thought of big data can have a positive effect on some consumers, forcing them to be more transparent.

How do you feel about privacy and big data? Do you think the way companies handle personal information has crossed the line? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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