Big Data & Privacy Issues in Social Media

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
With all this buzz about big data, there has to be a downside, right? In fact, one of the hottest debates about big data concerns your social media pages.

Big Data and Social Media

While it is not the biggest source of big data, social media serves as a great example to show how big data works. Remember that big data refers to the ability to look at massive amounts of information and draw conclusions from it. After all, when you think about all the information that gets stored on social media on a given day, it is still an incredible amount of data even after you filter out all the cat memes, vacation pictures, and mistaken political rants.

Obviously, a lot of big data analysts would love to have free rein over all that data. To be frank, a number of social media companies would love to provide that information. However, there are a number of concerns held by many that help to tap the brakes at the intersection of big data and social media.

A Great Source of Big Data

To be considered useful big data, the Four Vs must be followed: Velocity, Veracity, Volume, and Variety. In short, data should be relevant, reliable, big enough to draw conclusions from, and varied enough to eliminate biases. Social media delivers all of that. It is updated daily, if not hourly, by people all around the world, posting what they believe, with those beliefs making up a great deal of variety. In short, it is an incredibly useful form of big data.

Want to try this analysis for yourself? Simply find out what is trending on your social media provider of choice and click the hashtag. You'll find a number of different opinions from different sources, all posted relatively recently.

How Precise Should Big Data Be?

If the intersection of social media and big data was just a matter of collating all this data into a view from 10,000 feet, so to speak, then social media and big data would be a natural fit. In many cases, this is what happens. Companies are especially eager to advertise when their fields are trending. However, because social media has so much information on you, that you willingly provided, it can go much deeper than traditional marketing research. How deep is too deep? Let's say that you were recently engaged and had a number of friends posting on your wall to congratulate you. Typical keyword advertising would lead to a number of wedding planning options appearing in your feed. However, when taken to the extreme, big data run amok would combine the fact that you are newly engaged with information from your bank account and spending habits to suggest registry sites that fit your income. For many people, that is a bit too far.

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