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Big Data in Social Media
By: Jessica Cherok
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Big Data has been a hot topic as of late, but with its unfortunately Orwellian name, is it actually something to be concerned about? The answer as to whether Big Data is friend or foe comes down to context.

For businesses, Big Data provides the opportunity to put an actual value on marketing efforts. For example, instead of relying on the number of page likes or followers to measure social media impact, Big Data gives measurement of marketing activities in dollars. Whether you know a lot or a little about marketing, you can easily understand why businesses would want to know, in terms of money, what is their return on investment (ROI).

But it’s where Big Data comes from that has been making some people uncomfortable. We, the users, are most often the source of the data with our purchases, online activities, etc. In fact, we are the ones handing over tons of information about ourselves to social media sites, which in turn hand over tons of information to their affiliates and third parties.

The recent changes to Facebook’s policies are an excellent example of Big Data changing hands. A lot of people have been vocal about how they don’t want companies, like Facebook, sharing their information, but not enough have put their foot down about the practice.  And while there have been numerous reports detailing unhappiness with social media’s data-sharing practices, there is just as compelling data to suggest that a lot of people — particularly younger generations — have no problem sharing a lot of information.

Instead of dwelling on the subrogation of our personal privacy at the hands of social media, let’s focus on what Big Data can do that will make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.

First, Big Data will definitely help companies improve their products and overall performance. If you’ve ever called a Customer Service number, you see the upside to improvement. Secondly, the more data collected about you, the better the tailoring for you. In other words, the more data a company has on its customers, the more it will be able to make you feel like you are its one and only. Finally, Big Data is good for competition and growth, which is good for the overall economy, and thusly — good for you.

So get out there and check in somewhere or upload a photo. A better, more personalized Internet is waiting.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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