Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cloud Facebook Privacy Social Networks Twitter Your Rights Online

How Big Data Justifies Mining Your Social Data 102

Posted by timothy
from the anywhere-it-wants dept.
GMGruman writes "Paul Krill reports that one of the big uses of the new "Big Data" analytics technology is to mine the information people post through social networking. Which led him to ask 'What gives Twitter, Facebook, et al. the right to mine that data?' It turns out, users do when they sign up for social networking services, even if they don't realize that — but less clear is the ownership of other information on the Web that these tools also mine."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Big Data Justifies Mining Your Social Data

Comments Filter:
  • The 'right to mine data' or the right to privacy?
    • ...and people give me weird looks when I suggest that they should read the things they "accept" when they install software and sign up for websites.
      • by cheros (223479)

        Oh yes - see chapter 11 of the Google Terms of Service. 11.1 seems OK, but take the time to dissect what 11.2 actually says..

      • by rednip (186217)

        Do you read every word?

        Do you ever click 'decline' and don't use their product based on it's click-wrap?
        What was it?

        I've read the clauses and as I've taken business law classes I understand such contracts fairly well (unlike most), but once I realized the truth I found it generally worthless. If you look at nearly every such contract, you'd note that they reserve the right to change the 'agreement' in any fashion at any time, while trying to lock you in like chattel. From what I understand (as do many,

        • Do you ever click 'decline' and don't use their product based on it's click-wrap?
          What was it?

          As an example, I was once pushed by an undergrad course instructor to sign up for some "career building" website. What is interesting is that the instructor was annoyed when I said that I did not agree to the terms of use and that I would not sign up -- annoyed, because nobody else had a problem with them (or read them). I was not particularly comfortable signing up for a website that wanted the right to do essentially anything they wanted with the data I uploaded, particularly since I was not getting m

        • Do you read every word? ... I've read the clauses ... but ... I found it generally worthless. If you look at nearly every such contract, you'd note that they reserve the right to change the 'agreement' in any fashion at any time, while trying to lock you in like chattel.

          On this subject, I wanted to mention my quick script to check for subtle changes in text that you see often, such as Terms & Conditions that pop up every time you use a frequently-used Web service. It will alert you to small changes that

  • click-through TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mug funky (910186) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @06:54PM (#35448324)

    i think it's time click-through "I Agree" ten mile pages for new accounts get a test in court. people "sign" away too much, and not many people read those "agreements".

    • Re:click-through TOS (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @08:45PM (#35449056)
      It has actually been tested in Canada a few times and MANY of these agreements are NOT enforceable. There are *very* specific conditions the website has to adhere to in order for the agreement to be enforceable.
      • Noooooo..... think of all the underage 16yr nerds.... we all remember our youth, they need this to be law so that they can see some free porn online. Think of the humanity, imagine a world where you don't get 10 million porn hits without even trying. This effectively allows people to do anything they want online, if this disappears, simply going to Youporn would require you to show an id. There are a ton of zip codes on youporn that are banned, a couple states worth if you have ever bothered looking, imagin

    • Re:click-through TOS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MickLinux (579158) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @09:16PM (#35449216) Journal

      It's about time that instead of just clicking thru, people start thinking:

        (1) Typically, when evil corporations make evil agreements, their subsequent actions are ______ evil, as compared to the agreement.
            (a) MORE (b) LESS (c) ABOUT AS

        (2) I know I _____ the service (a) WANT (b) NEED (c) JUST GOTTA GOTTA HAVE

        (3) The "service" is actually _______ (a) a service (b) an bilateral transaction (c) a unilateral action masquerading as a bilateral transaction (d) a waste of resources (e) a con.

        (4) Now I will ______ (a) click "I agree", the above notwithstanding. (b) Walk away while I still can walk. (c) wonder what I was thinking, that I wanted to deal with these people.

              Just as an aside, that's sortof related, I'm unemployed. I worked on a team of 20 that was producing about $10Million of profit a year for our company. The company acted in *really* *really* bad faith. (Think brakeless trucks and repetitive OSHA violations. Think Company Code of Conduct. Think Honeypot). They hired their own lawyer to investigate, who took statements, but didn't even check the sources I give, waited for the OSHA statute of limitations to expire, and then announced the honeypot, concluding that there was no evidence.
              They fired me; now they are making about 1/6th that profit (think 1 production run of $75000 profit a week, as opposed to 3, and with many massive errors, as opposed to almost none.) So the company fired me, having profited heavily before, and I having made a max of $17/hr. But they did hurt themselves badly.

              Point being, I was about to apply for a job at a certain Language Translation CDr company, and in order to even apply and maybe interview, they wanted me to sign a click-thru agreement of confidentiality that included damages beyond limitless, and payment of all the lawyer fees they chose to assign, should they choose to hire a lawyer.

            Umm... I've already been there. Thank you, but rather than work for such an employer (or click through), I'd rather be unemployed. Arguably, I'd rather starve.

      I chose to walk away. If an employer would give an honest wage for an honest day's labor, they'd get a ton out of me. Language Translation Company is showing that there's no trust, so they aren't going to get the goodies.

    • by Chapter80 (926879)

      I think it's time for a Firefox Plug-in, or Grease Monkey script or something like that, that auto-clicks "I agree" for the Terms of Service of the top websites (get it to work with Facebook and Google first, and slowly work your way down the Alexa Top Million Sites [amazonaws.com] list).

      Some genius on here has got to be smart enough or think this is an interesting enough project to crank something out to do this. With the Plug-In installed, if the user gets to the Terms Of Service click-through agreement, then it auto-cl

  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@nospaM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 10, 2011 @06:57PM (#35448350)

    Which led him to ask 'What gives Twitter, Facebook, et al. the right to mine that data?' It turns out, users do when they sign up for social networking services, even if they don't realize that

    End of discussion. Pointless article is pointless.

    • by eepok (545733)

      I normally don't agree with seemingly simplistic "thread-ender" comments like this, but... I agree. These over-reaching EULAs and "privacy" agreements have been part of digital life for *decades* now. There's nothing new under the sun except that companies are more and more able to capitalize off the warnings now.

      I genuinely understand ignorance of new users, but anyone who has been clicking through installations or creating identities on whatever sites for a year or more should already know what this artic

    • by Relayman (1068986)
      Agreed. How do I get screwed by computers knowing me like my friends know me?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Well, in theory at least, your friends don't plan to take all your stuff or sign up for credit pretending to be you. They probably also won't tell your prospective employer about all the times you got drunk at parties - even if that prospective employer asks. Not so the people on the web. Some are nice. Some are most definitely not nice. Some want to steal your stuff, use your name and national ID to get credit, etc.
        • Facebook and Slashdot don't have my SSN so they can't sign up credit cards or open bank accts in my name. Hell, they probably know as much about me as anybody with a phone book 20 years ago knew.

          I agree with the anonymous coward. This is a yawner.

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by martin-boundary (547041) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:17PM (#35448516)
      Not only pointless, but wrong. You can't give up something if you don't realize that you're giving it up. A gift or a trade requires consent, which implies knowledge. It's pure sophistry to say otherwise, the kind that many lawyers like to use.
      • Re:News? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:45PM (#35448706)

        Not only pointless, but wrong. You can't give up something if you don't realize that you're giving it up. A gift or a trade requires consent, which implies knowledge.

        And yet people blindly accept click-throughs on a regular basis. What a paradox. But what an opportunity in the field of education! All we need to do is add an "I agree" button to the end of any given lecture and students will instantly gain knowledge whether they paid attention or not!

        • Now *that* could revolutionize education. Even more so if they link the "I Agree" button to a credit card transaction. Call it "one click learning", maybe send a receipt^H^H^H diploma in the mail :)
      • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by raddan (519638) * on Thursday March 10, 2011 @09:02PM (#35449150)
        Ignorantia juris non excusat. It may be the case that everybody knows that nobody reads the fine print, but that doesn't mean that the fine print is not there.

        Like it or not, Facebook provides a service. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. If you don't like the exchange, don't participate.
        • by JustNilt (984644)

          "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is a legal principle relating to one's liability for an action that violates a criminal offense. It has nothing to do with entering a contract with another. Even then it's not absolute. There are explicit exceptions for willfulness in many statutes and there was one case back in the 60s, I believe it was that made it to the SCotUS which held that you have to have a likelihood of knowing an offense is a crime in order to be held liable. I'm too lazy to look it up but

    • Yep, no reason for the story (and I use the word in entirely the wrong way) to exist.

      States the obvious. It's why I am very selective over what I actually put on places like Facebook (I have no photos or much of anything on there) and Twitter (random inane babbling).

    • Agreed, you "opt in" when you join.

      Friends and Family keep asking why I don't have FB or Twitter or MySpace or anything else despite being the tech guy in the group.

      I keep telling them that all of that stuff is too technical for me - saves on the long drawn out discussion of why it's bad to be associated with those sites - specially when it comes to "looking for a job" time.

      Course, they roll their eyes at me - but hey, a guys gotta get some laughs now and again...

    • by coofercat (719737)

      Well, here in the UK, and possibly in Canada, just because you say "vehicles left at owners own risk" on a sign in your car park doesn't mean that you absolve your responsibility to people who pay you to park their cars.

      What I'm saying is that a high proportion of EULAs on websites in particular are completely unenforceable. Just because a given site says "we can track you all we want, and we can sell that data how we choose" doesn't make it legal. In fact, in the UK that would be complely illegal, as it is

  • Fine print. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @06:57PM (#35448352)

    There's also a clause about 'organ harvesting' that I seem to have missed.

    Think about that next time you tweet about your kitty cat spilling milk on your keyboard.

    • by Relayman (1068986)
      Been reading Dilbert, [dilbert.com] have you?
    • There's also a clause about 'organ harvesting' that I seem to have missed.

      Think about that next time you tweet about your kitty cat spilling milk on your keyboard.

      Tweet this instead: "My cat just spilled my daily glass urine from goats infected with dengue. I use so many self discovered homeopathic cures and all my organs are still failing."

  • There is none. Nor should there be.

    • by cosm (1072588)
      Unfortunately, not in the United Plutocratic States of Corporate America. Write your congressm...they're bought out. Write your senato....they're bought out too...erm... become a lobbyist!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kindly give me your credit card # and Social Security Number. You don't own them - give them to me now.
      Privacy and ownership are more closely connected than you realize.

      • The fact that I don't own something does not imply my obligation to provide it to you. There are a number of ways of finding out the information you seek, and none of them involve you paying me. Privacy and ownership can be related, but one does not imply the other.
      • i don't own my credit card number. i know it, and i have a reason to jealously prevent others from knowing it, but none of this constitutes 'ownership', which can't apply to information.
        once it becomes known to you (legally or otherwise) i can't say you've stolen it. or that if you posted it on the web, that every viewer also stole it. since information is not a physical quantity, it cannot be possessed, only 'known'.

    • by olden (772043)

      ...then I'm sure you don't mind sharing your financial details, medical history etc with us, your boss, insurance, etc... It's already electronically available somewhere anyway, right?

      (and we're back to the whole "if you have something to hide" debate. I personally side with Schneier on this, privacy is a necessity: http://www.schneier.com/essay-114.html [schneier.com])

      • by Relayman (1068986)
        I'm a lot more worried about wrong information getting out about me than correct information being leaked. Someone falsely claiming that I've had a liver transplant because of alcoholism is going to do me a lot more damage than someone announcing my waist and inseam.

        There's also safety in numbers. If 15 million credit card numbers are stolen, what are the chances that mine will be used?
      • by tunapez (1161697)

        ...then I'm sure you don't mind sharing your financial details, medical history etc with us, your boss, insurance, etc... It's already electronically available somewhere anyway, right?

        You are correct, sir! [pbs.org] It is, sadly, already available to the highest bidder, check out the 5th segment, Narrowcasting. Acxiom even allowed cameras into their castle, which is surprising to me.

  • The curse of the internet. It permeates everything with press releases being put out as "news" and editorials, with product placements and outright sales pitches. But the answer to his question should have been more than obvious... I'm fairly certain that if people understood what they were "signing", We'd see a different world.

    • I agree with your post. By reading these words you agree to check out the Android app in my sig.
      • :) Excellent.. Thank you for understanding.. But you need a journal entry with a faux editorial. Detail details...

        • Hehe yeah, I really do agree with what you're saying though but how do you propose to make people understand more? I think you run into legal issues by forcing companies to have simple privacy policies/eulas etc.

          For me, I'd say there just need to be hard limits on what can be collected, how long that data can be held, who and what can be used. For instance I dont think it right for employers to get full credit history and to look people up on facebook and whatnot, it just seems wrong. References or Li
          • Well first, you can forget about "policy". That will never work. Never has. And now it's too easy to hide the info you're collecting. We can only assume everything is being collected for some purpose or another. The issue isn't technical. People have to learn how to tune out the chaff. Just let it pass through completely unnoticed. And let them collect all the info they want. Just nail them to the wall if they try to use it against you. But all that crap requires a collective action. As an individual, the b

  • Summary: when you click "I Agree", you're agreeing to let the site do whatever with whatever for whatever reason.

    Ya, duh. What is this, 1994 ?

    • by cosm (1072588)

      Summary: when you click "I Agree", you're agreeing to let the site do whatever with whatever for whatever reason.

      Ya, duh. What is this, 1994 ?

      I think somebody found this article saved on an old Windows 98 machine they were throwing away, so to cut cost they just fudged the dates and substringed in modern corporate brands.

    • so wait, its a surprise that big companies use fine print and legal loopholes to do whatever they want to improve profits.
    • so... because your computer sends a response to the server that indicates to the server that a particular routine on the local computer executed or ran (by whom or what is not covered obviously), they are legally entitled to do what they want with the information the PC has given them.

      using that logic: i guess i should make a browser that sends an EULA... or perhaps a SCLA (server communication) in the meta data it sends to the server along the lines of "by transmitting information to this computer you h
      • by Leebert (1694) *

        You're being a bit disingenuous.

        A click-through in the context of an EULA, to a reasonable person, means somebody clicked it. Is it absolutely iron clad? Of course not, but neither is the bunch of squiggly lines that I scratch out on the signature line of that contract to buy a car, or the home loan documents, or any other perfectly normal contract.

        One can certainly make a case to another reasonable person that it is reasonable to believe that if the "I accept" button got clicked, then a human probably cl

        • I would argue that a human is equally unlikely to read an EULA than a sysadmin to read an anomaly with the browser analytical. Especially if a company like Sony like to update their EULA every firmware update which happens at least once a week.
          • Just to clarify: the argument behind this is that companys say "its not my fault they don't know our policy, its in the EULA" while knowing full well that the EULA is used to selectively enforce popular policy depending on who's in charge at the time, and is therefor written in a confusing and overreaching manner to give as much power to those who are in charge as possible. I would like to use the same argument saying "its not my fault they don't know my policy, its re-sent to them every time i refresh thei
      • i guess i should make a browser that sends an EULA... or perhaps a SCLA (server communication) in the meta data it sends to the server along the lines of "by transmitting information to this computer you have released your rights to the information you have transmitted, continual transmission will be taken as an agreement to that condition". now its legal for me to use facebook's logos etc for my own financial gain without cutting them in. if they can obfuscate their "entitlements" deep in an obscure, excessively legalized document in which is supposedly applicable to even 13 year olds. then the same logic applies to my "agreement".

        A cookie that is set is sent to the server upon each request. Cookies can be limited to only be sent to one server, but the default is "send to all servers".

        Here, paste this into your address bar:
        javascript:void(document.cookie="NOTICE=By transmitting information to this computer you have released your rights to the information you have transmitted, continual transmission will be taken as an agreement to that condition")

        Now each website you visit (until you close your browser) will receive your agre

  • No Free Lunch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:14PM (#35448480) Homepage Journal
    Nothing is free. When someone gives you something for free, they are lying to you. There are always tangible and intangible benefits that tend to negate the freeness. We have free food programs so we don't have to think about the people who don't have enough to eat, and so that our stuff is safer because people without food will be less likely to steal(outside of self righteous morality, one option to get basics is always theft). In the US we have free education so that it is more likely out kids can increase the standard of living by leveraging technology to get more stuff out of the same or fewer resources. Someone has to pay for the Twitter servers, and those that do will eventually a return on investment, and not just a single digit multiplier. Google does not provide maps because they are company that will do not evil. All of us should know we trade ourselves for servies.

    This type of data mining is not something that bothers me. I think it should be more in the open, and maybe regulated to protect the average consumer, but it is not horrible. What I find horrible is places like Krogers and CVS that offer products far above prevailing prices and require one to have a card that will allow them to track and collect huge amounts of private data. Sure, we don't have to shop at CVS or Krogers, and sure they provide the occasional really good deal, but if i were to regulate something it would be these scams, not services that actually provide a useful service in exchange for data.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We have free food programs so we don't have to think about the people who don't have enough to eat

      The primary purpose of food stamps, WIC, assisted housing, and other forms of welfare is both simple and ugly. It creates an army of voters who become dependent on these programs and do not know how to get by without them. They will strongly support the politicians who want to increase social spending. They will vehemently oppose anyone who wants to decrease it. Even though the politician's reasons are easy

    • by seifried (12921)
      What about material released into the public domain? QED, there is stuff that is free.
  • They need to step back and think about that a bit more. It gives them the permission and ability, not necessarily the right. But also people that use Twitter, Facebook, etc need to understand also YOU ARE NOT THE CUSTOMER! You are the product, you never have been the customer, and probably never will be deal with it and don't put personal info up, and as soon as you find one that works to treat you as the customer instead of the product jump on it, and pay because in the end thats what it will take to make

    • That's nice. If you're not the customer, but merely the product, then you have no obligations to the website or to the website's customers to act in any way that conforms to the expectations of the website or their real customers. When the website admins complain that you always block their ads, tell them to fuck off. When they complain that the information you gave them was fake, tell them to fuck off. It's good to be a product :)
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:24PM (#35448572) Homepage Journal

    Canadian citizens have a right to Privacy that is stronger.

    Regardless of what the American lawyers for these companies tell you, it's in the Canadian Constitution.

    And, for that matter, EU citizens also have stronger Rights in these regards, especially in terms of data sharing.

    Just because a lawyer tells you something, doesn't make it true - my family is full of lawyers and lots of my friends are lawyers or judges too.

  • What the headline promises is how "Big Data" justifies mining personal data, not on what basis it is legal for them to do so. I'd like an answer or an opinion on that, but I'm sure it would be the all-too-obvious data-for-advertising-to-make-the-service-free.

    • by pwizard2 (920421)
      "Big Data" (and corporate America in general) justify it because money is all that matters to them. They have based their lives around it and it fills their very being even though they may pretend otherwise. If you were to meet one of them and look past the surface, the hunger and greed would be there. Even though they already have enough money, what does privacy matter when the chance of gaining even more profit is at stake? If someone were to take their money (or power) away from them, they would be b
    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      What the headline promises is how "Big Data" justifies mining personal data, not on what basis it is legal for them to do so

      Web 2.0 privacy fears aside, how about comparing Big data's justification to how older people DO expect *all* employers to justify owning us legally to an extent, (NDA's, fair behavior, non-compete agreements) signed with real ink before our first day of work? Even and weeks prior to getting even your first dollar bill for your slavery?

      Lets shift a bit: in some locations, earning free state funds toward your college education means you can use that illegally for beer... in others, it goes directly to your b

    • by raddan (519638) *
      Well, the other obvious answer is that it's not "your data". You may have generated it, but you used their service to do so. I'd say it was always theirs.

      If they said to you, "In order to use our service, you need to upload your bank statements", then, well, different story. But that's not what's happening here.
      • Where are you drawing the line to distinguish "your data" that you have a legitimate right to not expect exploitation of vs. something which comes through as a result of using the system?

        If I upload my photos to Facebook, I would still expect that is "my data" - I'm using Facebook as a distribution platform, but that doesn't mean I'm handing it over to them. If I were to use a Facebook "app" to modify my photo in a certain way, I could possibly understand your point of view, but a "reasonable person" would

  • by A Man Called Da-da (2013464) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @07:59PM (#35448790) Homepage
    ...of facebook, twitter, etc. If enough people quit social disease networking (gasp, what will you do with your time??), then the corporations that run them will feel the pain and either change for the good, or go out of business. Both are wins for humanity. Alas, the reality is that, given lower numbers and a social forgetworking downturn, they'll just sell themselves to some big stupid brick-n-mortar conglomerate that doesn't know any better, where they'll limp into fad obscurity and resurge in 20 years as a peculiar, nostalgic fetish. Let asocial networking's EQUILIBRIUM OF MEDIOCRITY begin. -da-da
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday March 11, 2011 @12:37AM (#35450076)
      "Did you know that Facebook records every single thing you do on their website from the very moment you sign up?"
      "So what?"

      That is an exchange that I had with someone when I was an undergrad. People do not actually care if companies are mining their private lives, they just want to use Facebook and Twitter and not have to think about anything.
    • by houghi (78078)

      Drop out of life. The trouble is that many are not even questioning what is going on. Just because something is legal does not mean it is right.
      Laws should be there for the people by the people, not for the profit of the shareholders by the shareholders.
      Many things that used to be legal are now forbidden. Some things that are forbidden should be legal.

      A government for the people, by the people should realize dangers, like the invasion of privacy and take action to protect it. But what do you expect from a g

  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by 517714 (762276) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @09:36PM (#35449290)
    All your data are belong to us.
  • to any on-line entity, i'm an 80-year-old Afghan blind and handicapped woman living in zipcode 20593 - it's my on-line 'presence' :-)

    p.s. the end of second st. SW is a vermin-filled pus hole

  • I've heard this stuff a thousand times before, and I'm still curious: why should I give a crap? The 'personal information' they gather is hardly personal.
  • What gives them the right is that anything you post is PUBLIC.

    If I go yell out strings of words in PUBLIC I would have little cause to be angry with people who heard and wrote them down.

    PUBLIC people. PUBLIC. That's where everyone can hear what you say, you have to night to "privacy" in PUBLIC.

  • Is this honestly surprising? This was known but ignored for like a decade now. Remember Google Chrome's original ToS claiming ownership of anything you do using the Google Chrome browser? That was late in this whole debacle... not even early. People just didn't care. Now they do. Poor them?

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman

Working...