Big Data, Big Insights, Big Issues, and Facebook: Part 2

January 7, 2011 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

By Mary Ludloff

Before I get started on part 2, I need to come clean about something (and I should have done this is Part 1 but the post was just getting far too long). Okay, here goes: I do not yet have a Facebook page.

Yes, horrors! And really, how does one justify not having a Facebook page when one is in marketing? Before you start to snicker, I do have a LinkedIn page and even a Twitter handle. I simply prefer to keep my social media activities, associations, whatever you want to call it, on the professional side. And please note the “yet” with regards to Facebook. Most likely, some day in the near future I will have a Facebook page as well. But it will, as you most likely have guessed, be very similar to my LinkedIn page.

To be very clear, I like to keep a pretty solid demarcation between my professional and personal lives. I find that it is much easier to do this by keeping my private life off the Internet. This is not a judgment about what you might choose to do, it is simply my preference.

Now that I have revealed my non-Facebook status, I would like to talk about a recent post in ReadWriteWeb about Facebook’s latest feature, the Registration Tool, which essentially allows you to have what Jeff Atwood calls your “Internet driver’s license.” (And really, you should read Atwood’s post on web passwords and why you need to be careful out there. And if it worries you, consider LastPass as a secure way to manage your passwords.) Essentially, Facebook would like to become your de facto registration point across thousands of websites.

Nothing wrong with that. Especially, if it helps to keep your private information private.

What does it mean to you and me? More data that can be aggregated and cross referenced with other data sets to produce unknown insights about all of us. As I said in part 1, the PatternBuilders’ development team would love to “get their hands on it” to see what kinds of interesting analytics/insights that they can come up with as is the rest of the “big data” world. Just take a look at what all our LinkedIn data is telling us about us. One interesting insight: those who join the military are more likely to be homeless because they lose their support network when they leave the service.

Here’s the thing about your Facebook data. It’s really your data, wiped clean of anything that could be used to identify you on an individual level. What’s wrong with sharing it so that we can all reap the rewards of big data, analysis, and better insights?

Considering that Facebook is looking at your data to make all kinds of decisions about its business as well as offering its data demographics to advertisers (and making lots and lots of money off of what it knows about you), is it too much to ask them to offer that data set up and share the wealth with outside researchers? Or at the very least, take the reddit approach which tells you exactly what’s done with your data at an aggregate and personal level as well as giving you the opportunity to opt-in for making your site usage data available for research purposes.

IMHO, that’s the way all social media sites should operate: let the user decide whether their aggregate data can be released to the world.  Maybe it’s time to ask Facebook users what they want done with all that data. Facebook users, what do you think?

Entry filed under: Data, General Analytics. Tags: , , .

Speaking at Stanford on Entrepreneurship in 2011 TMI: Your Privacy, Data, and the Internet

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