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More databases will use our data to generate insights

August 29, 2013

The goal of Facebook is to make the world more open and connected. It talks about giving people the power to do this, but the Facebook platform is the things that does it.

Facebook is a massive pile of data, ready for scraping. Anyone can look at all the data on Facebook and learn about clusters of people. What do men who like Target generally like as a favorite movie? Do women who like soccer also like tea? You can find this out on Facebook. I’m not sure what you’ll do with it, unless you’re thinking about making tea bags shaped like a ball. 

opening up its gates and trying to learn your likes and interests. By now you’ve heard about the Like button, and how it’s creeping around the internet.

Facebook and and Google might know more about you than your family. (Though they promise not to share it, and in the case of Google, they promise not to do evil.)

So we share our data. We share it because in return, we get something. Often we’re not sure what we get – in the case of Facebook, we get connections. In the case of Google, we get more relevant searches or ads. 

The digital web works better when it knows more about us. The more we tell Facebook, the better it is connecting us to people like us. 

Likewise with Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, FourSquare. Etc. Openness makes them better tools.

Ten years ago, a brand had to promise me something in return for my information. If they wanted my e-mail address, I needed value. Value usually came in the form of a promotion – give your e-mail address for a chance to win a new car.

These days I’m thinking about privacy, and the things we’ll gladly share in public, and the things we won’t. I’m thinking about it because of this:

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 9.35.16 PM

Find people, reunite. For some people, the results might be a little unnerving (depending on how deeply you’ve dived into social media). For others, this might mean nothing.

It meant something to me so I went to their blog and read this about Your Privacy:

Spokeo People Search finds only publicly available information by default. Previously this information had been scattered across the Web and ignored by major search engines.  Spokeo is the first service to aggregate this user-generated content from over 40 Web services, giving you new insight into your friends’ online content.

Spokeo compiles a list from all the places one might have a profile, and generates insights about people. As people share more and more, the pile of data out there will get bigger.

Search engines that comb through it all, collect it, and make sense of it will be ubiquitous. Our data has always been protected because it’s been hard to gather into one place. As we share more and more, it’s getting easier to collect.

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