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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Facebook Learns Data Management The Hard Way

Quickly making the rounds this Monday morning is the news that Facebook has been conducting psychological research with user’s personal information. This has been met with widespread negativity and derision online, but examination of the user agreement provided upon signup shows that this sort of work is expressly allowed as part of participation in the service. What this exposé does provide an opportunity for, though, is learning more about responsible data management.

“Many people at big web companies have told me: if you use our product you are in an experiment”  – Farhad Manjoo

Collecting large amounts of data for business purposes is not a new concept, dating back to the 1990’s in principle. However, the internet has really created an explosion in capabilities for companies interested in using information to make smarter business decisions and predict consumer behavior. With these abilities also come new responsibilities to safeguard people’s information and privacy, creating a demand for security services in this day of data breaches. Facebook is catching flak because of their sheer size and public visibility, but the ethical issues facing the company are common to all businesses engaging in these practices.

As society moves into a digital age, concerns like these are apt to be more common and crop up with greater frequency. The charge to companies is to find a balance between the benefits of large data collection while also protecting the privacy and anonymity of the people that have provided that same information. Time will tell how these issues will affect the average American, but the one thing for certain is that we’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the future.

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