Facebook Big Data: Use, Misuse or Abuse

By CIOReview | Friday, February 21, 2014

FREMONT, CA: Facebook, the parallel world where 1.2Bn users spend time sending 10Bn messages, 350Mn pictures, 250Bn photos each day is expanding its data exponentially. It is definitely an awesome treasure box of information on people all over the world but it also indicates concentration of enormous power in the hands of a single corporate company.

The undeniable fact is that Facebook is very well aware of the power they posses and are even developing business models exploiting this data base. The company is investing heavily in the collection, storage and analysis of the ever increasing data on their walls. The latest move by the company is the acquisition of Whatsapp, the popular mobile chat platform.

A study by Cambridge University and Microsoft Research shows how Facebook ‘Likes’ are capable of precisely guessing the personality details and emotional stability, political views and the like. The social networking site uses cookies which records all the web browsing details once user logs in, image processing and 'face recognition' capabilities also assists in keeping tabs. All these are piling on intimate and personal details onto the data base of Facebook making it all the more important to rein in the loose ends.

But the problem does not lie in the mind boggling statistics or data generated. It is the ways of use services they can be put to. As Bernard Marr writes in a column for Smart Data Collective, this whole collection and analysis of data is not done in a transparent manner. The extent of mining and analysis of data gathered are not disclosed or conducted candidly. He also stresses on “maybe some control over the way our data can and cannot be used.”

Adding evidence to this viewpoint is the case filed by two users against Facebook stating the company violated the Electronic Communication Privacy act by prying into the user’s private messages. The important point here is that personal messages are not to be pried upon, by anybody.