Cybersecurity » Data-Gathering Backlash Brewing

Data-Gathering Backlash Brewing

April 2, 2018

Writing in The Verge, Alexandra Samuel, a former online marketer, discusses the kind of questionable data-gathering tactics that were an open secret among marketers and their attorneys, but largely ignored by the media, until the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. “I was the vice president of social media for Vision Critical, a customer intelligence software company that powers customer feedback for more than a third of the Fortune 100 companies,” she writes. “Our enterprise clients wanted to know how social media data could complement the insights they were getting from their customer surveys, and it was my job to come up with a way of integrating social media data with survey data.” She quotes other data-miners who are having second thoughts about the way data is gathered and used commercially. Social networks and other advertising platforms may set up various processes that theoretically screen out data-manipulating advertisers, but as long as those companies run on advertising revenue they have little incentive to promote transparency among data brokers and advertisers, and those industries have little motivation to place ethics ahead of profit. Samuel suggests that public support for a different kind of online ecosystem that would preclude such tactics is growing. “The contemporary Internet runs on the exploitation of user data, and that fact won’t change until consumers, regulators and businesses commit to a radically different model,” she writes.

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