Transparency in a Post-Facebook World

Posted: 3.25.2019

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In 2014, Aleksandr Kogan, a data scientist at Cambridge University, developed an app called thisisyourdigitallife. It was a personality quiz, which had a personal information "opt-in" button. By taking the quiz, users agreed to share their data for "academic purposes."

However, in 2015 Facebook discovered that Kogan had shared the results of the data scraping to political entities, thus raising the spector of invasive data collection and fears of malicious targetting by organizations. In March 2018, the story broke, Facebook has apologized, and Mark Zuckerberg speaks with lawmakers today.

It's surprising to some that the CA incidient has garnered as much press as it has. After all, political campaigns (and companies, for that matter) have been tracking online behavior and building profiles since the invention of "cookies."

However, at CIS, we have a different take.

People see their online "profile" as an off-shoot of their overall personality: deeply personal and private (to the extent they want it to be). Beyond a data "breach", Facebook's "breach of TRUST" has awakened millions to the level of detail and sophistication of current data collection - and the public has had enough. The term "passive data collection" was coined at the beginning of the 21st century, to little fanfare, but now people are beginning to understand what that means.

Companies collect data on people to help them hone their message and target the right audience, from political campaigns to new scents of detergent. But what if people give them information they expect to be used "for academic purposes," but are really used for marketing purposes? You can see it for yourself!

Remember the "Friends and Family" campaign from the now-defunct MCI long distance phone call provider? It was a program whereby MCI customers provided MCI the names and numbers of 20 of their most frequently called "circle" for a reduced rate. However, MCI began marketing to those 20 "friends" and there was a similar public outcry. Like the MCI debacle, people feel betrayed by Facebook, and the politics behind the breach of trust just adds fuel to the fire.

At Custom Intercept, we believe in an HONEST approach to data collection. We approach consumers IN-PERSON, and IN-THE-MOMENT. We collect data directly from consumers via iPads, so all the capabilities of technology are brought to bare, without invasive, potentially trust-breaking methods. The data is housed securly, and does not require any email, ip address, or any other personally identifying data.


Wikipedia, New York Times , and NPR.