As a marketer who uses social advertising tools I’m horrified and offended at what was done with the last Kenyan election and what is no doubt continuing to whatever extent.
Still I’d like to separate out a few things that seem to be packed together in the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal.
1. Big data that helps, e.g. MRI data and cancer training labels.
2. Big data that hurts, e.g. personal data that is used to target an individual and attempt to have an effect on them for some sort of gain… like their vote or their money
3. The tools used to analyze data.
4. The people using the tools.
The tools aren’t to blame in my opinion . By and large these are developed in universities and labs with positive intentions. For example, the big data used to identify heath issues is pretty esoteric and not of much use to anyone outside the field as well as having a narrow scope of applicability. Additionally the ramifications of its misuse are narrow at best.
Collecting big personal data is not wrong. Collecting data that can be used to identify you isn’t wrong either. What matters is how you treat the data and why are you collecting it. Big personal data has a wide range of use. For example, has a nurse ever measured your height and weight and written it down in your file? Did the doctor do an ultrasound when you were in your your mother’s womb? These guys were collecting data from you to literally save your life. If the data shows abnormalities, it will be caught early can be treated early. The only catch is, misuse of big personal data can have extreme impacts on individuals and society.
As for the people, I blame them for the misuse of the tools and the big data because any normal and moral person would realize that micro targeting people to sell more things or manipulate their thoughts is wrong, plain and simple. I get they need a job. But whether it’s a soldier choosing to disobey orders, an analyst refusing to use a dataset, or a marketer refusing to push propaganda, at some point we must make decisions that do not compromise ourselves and society for a paycheck.
In my opinion, data sharing for research, innovation, benchmarking and predicting future outcomes should be fine as long as nobody pays to get it.
But that’s just my two cents, what’s your take on the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal? Would you buy big personal data to increase the effectiveness of your marketing or advertising?