Easing Data-Related Fears Post-Cambridge

For weeks now, the internet has been in a frenzy over the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. There is much speculation in regards to the situation, and consumers and those in the technology industry alike are looking to the future. But in reality, the Cambridge Analytica scandal shouldn’t affect your perception of Big Data as a whole.

 

Overview

In short, Cambridge Analytica harvested copious amounts of information in order to fulfill the promises made to clients — cutting-edge psychographic profiles that could judge voters’ personalities. Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel told the New York Times that it was a “scam and a fraud,” but Cambridge University psychologist Aleksandr Kogan says the data collection was “perfectly legal and within the limits of the terms of service.” The issues facing the Cambridge scandal are neither new or unique, but they have become increasingly prevalent in recent months. 

Data mining remains a major debate topic in terms of privacy and security — with many sites and companies now focusing on how to collect data both effectively and ethically. In many cases, this process is still in a stage of infancy as social media becomes increasingly prominent as a marketing platform.

Currently, when you join Facebook, or any social media site, you typically agree to a “terms and conditions” section, and like most people, you probably did not look it over with a fine-tooth comb. The premise of social media is that we receive a free service in exchange for our data. For years, it has been common knowledge that this data is used to show you relevant ads, and that same technology can easily be used to measure political views. Now, however, the full extent of this notion has become recognized, and it will serve as an important chapter in data’s overall evolution. 

 

Looking ahead

It is more than reasonable to have fears surrounding current data mining implications. However, the reality is that cyber security is being strengthened via analytics every year, leading to increased protection.  In fact, 90% of respondents from MeriTalk’s U.S. government survey said they’ve seen a decline in security breaches. That said, growing pains are to be expected as we work to grapple with emerging concepts and the full extent to which they may be leveraged.