Friday, March 2, 2012

FOR THE BIRDS

The Globe & Mail is reporting on the impending release of two years of data mining from our Twitter posts.

Twitter licensed two marketing companies, Gnip Inc. and DataSift Inc, to sift through users Tweets and analyze  information about us.

The companies are going to sell the information in packages for other companies to comb through to determine our spending, social, political leanings, travel habits, how we think and more importantly, how we react.

Privacy rights advocates are sounding the alarm over concerns about the implications of this user information being released.

More than 700 companies are on a waiting list to buy the information.

Twitter says that no private conversations or deleted tweets can be accessed. It has also agreed to provide all of it's Tweets to the Library of Congress, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to mine the data. That process has not been worked out yet.

So, how to you feel about data mining companies mining through hundreds of your tweets? Does it bother you? To me it is like a condensed batch of focus groups. I snicker when I hear people get indignant about data miners sifting through their tweets. First of all, if you do not want your thoughts in the public domain - do not tweet or use Facebook to broadcast the last time you picked your nose or visited Starbucks! It is your choice to use these free social networks.

Am I comfortable with it, no not really. It is a little spooky, but if companies can find value in the data, so be it. Let's face it, users are the product! 

We all have the right to not participate.



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