The issue of your user data has cropped up a few times on this blog in the past few weeks. Midway through last month for instance I discussed the way social networks, and even e-commerce sites, are using the vast data they have on us and our behaviours to let advertisers target us with offers. The trade-off is that we often get free services. It’s an interesting balancing act between earning enough to continue providing great services, whilst at the same time not alienating the very people you hope to attract.
The issue took an interesting turn a week or so later when a senior government security official recommended that people register on social networks with fake information. His primary concern was identity theft, but there are obvious implications for social networks if a majority of their users are submitting variable data. Facebook for instance has already admitted that 10% of its users are either fakes or duplicates. If another sizeable portion are registering with fake info it does little for their advertising prospects.
Anyway, the point of this additional blog on the subject is a fascinating discussion on this topic by some academics from the University of Cambridge (a hat tip to Jim for recommending it). The event examines whether the social media giants are profiting from our willingness to share the most intimate details of our lives online and whether we should be worried by this compromise to our privacy? The panel discussing this includes Michal Konsinski, Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre; Professor William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute; Nick Pickles, Big Brother Watch; Mariam Cook, Porter Novelli.
It’s quite lengthy but provides a great overview of the topic, so if you have a spare evening it’s well worth a listen. I hope you enjoy.