Infographic: Big Brotherâ¿¿s Big Data Spurs Profits And Privacy Concerns
How much information do you believe Facebook (FB) has on you? What about Google (GOOG) and LinkedIn (LNKD). A lot, clearly. These websites track our every click, adding the information to a gigantic and ever-growing database.
Of course big data collection goes beyond internet usage, it follows your consumer purchases, travel plans, television shows, and much more, making it nearly impossible to be illusive.
To what end? Why should I care?
The collection of data makes it easy for a computer to compile and spit out a thorough description of your life: hobbies, personal and professional interests, religious beliefs, family associations, and more.
Disturbingly, buying a certain combination of products triggers the type of promotions you receive, which are based on some very intimate predictions data collectors make about you.
This was highlighted in a New York Times article by Charles Duhigg that featured Andrew Pole, a Target (TGT) statistician helping the retail giant identify pregnant customers, even if they were trying to keep it secret. "Pole's computers," Duhigg writes, "are able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy."
Big Data for Big Profits
Perhaps you feel this very specific catering is convenient, or maybe invasive, either way it is incredibly effective. From a financial perspective, the companies that best optimize this kind of data are in the strongest positions to profit.