Big Data and Small Trust: How Gathering Information is Killing Companies

This week, our favorite social media drug addiction website announced that it would be changing it’s default privacy policy. Bowing to pressure from their user base, they have decided that users should post to “friends only” by default rather than the previous “everyone” setting. New users will have the adjusted privacy by default, while existing users will be reminded to do a privacy check up.

This positive change, however, was counterbalanced by the announcement that their app would now “listen” to what’s going on in the background, allowing you to more easily share what television show you’re watching or what music you’re listening to. They stress that, as a result of fears of NSA spying, that this “feature” will be optional, and that only an anonymized version of the sound bits – which they claim are converted to a non-reversible, non-listenable code – will be stored on the servers if you opt in, allowing the network to better sell advertisements to companies.

As I have discussed this bit of news with people this week, I tend to get the same reaction. People usually immediately decide to stop using the app, even though the update has not been released yet, and even though you can opt-out of the “service”. Big data and eavesdropping are getting much more invasive and, ultimately, frightening more users into abandoning the companies and services that don’t treat the information in a favorable way. The quest for data, which marketers want to better sell to potential customers, is slowly killing the sensitive client base.

I believe that it is important to gather information on your potential client base in order to better create a product or service that would benefit them. I also understand that sites like Facebook and Google, who do everything they can to gather data, are services that make their money by selling your engagement. So I understand the desire to gather as much data as possible through as many channels as possible. However, unwelcome intrusion creates an opposite effect, dwindling the sellable user base down, eventually killing it off.

What do you think about big data and privacy invasion? Is it a fair trade to use a service for no money in exchange for data, or do you feel the companies should have limits to how they can collect data? Let us know in the comments!

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.