“Data Collection!” Did I scare you? If I did, that’s understandable. Data collection has become something of a spooky thought these days, leading many to long for a life off the grid. When you search Google for a movie one time and suddenly you’re seeing ads for that movie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else, it can almost feel like you’re being watched. In a way, you kind of are, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.
In early October, I authored a class post for MIS 5001 about how social media sites, apps, and other companies in the digital realm collect data for the purposes of digital marketing, and posed a question about whether or not this form of data collection is ethical. There have been, and should absolutely continue to be, conversations about whether or not a long, unreadable list of terms and conditions is ethical.
Of course, data collection for the purposes of targeted content, such as advertisements, plays a significant role in the way that marketing takes place today. While that feeling of being watched can make you feel like you are some kind of zoo animal or a laboratory rat in Facebook’s grand experiment, it would be wrong to ignore the aspects by which targeting by way of data collection has helped to make our lives easier, more streamlined, and helped us to be more informed.
In the case study we read for class entitled “Social Strategy at American Express” by Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and David Chen, one of the highlights of the strategy used by American Express was how they were able to use their customer data in conjunction with data that was gathered by the social media channels they were partnering with in order to offer them better discounts and deals on products and services.
Additionally (and here’s the part that might freak you out), Google knows everything about you. If you have location services activated on your phone, Google knows everywhere you’ve been, the times you were there, and how long it took you to get there. They know every YouTube search you’ve ever done, along with your music listening habits, age, hobbies… like I said, everything. But, so long as you’re not planning a heist, if you can accept the ways that this will help them help you, the internet doesn’t have to be such a scary place.