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Cambridge Analytica vs Beacon – Facebook Australia Quantium


Ancient history? From Beacon to Cambridge Analytica, and Quantium. How Facebook and Twitter work with big data companies in Australia and beyond.

In 2007 Facebook got into trouble for Beacon – I wrote about it at the time – a service that reported on your behaviours online and offline for “personalisation” purposes.

From Beacon to Cambridge Analytica

From Wikipedia “Beacon formed part of Facebook’s advertisement system that sent data from external websites to Facebook, for the purpose of allowing targeted advertisements and allowing users to share their activities with their friends. Beacon would report to Facebook on its members’ activities on third-party sites that also participate with Beacon. These activities would be published to users’ News Feed. This would occur even when users were not connected to Facebook and would happen without the knowledge of the Facebook user. ” Wikipedia Beacon Facebook

I wrote at the time that Beacon the brand was dead but not the behaviours.

So then we get this:  “By learning from its unsuccessful experience, Facebook has been seeking other ways to monetize their user database through social advertising. Unlike Beacon, the process of commercialization tends to happen in the back-end system thus becoming invisible to the users.[24] In this way, a lot of resistance from the user population could be largely removed. ” Wikipedia Beacon Facebook

Facebook can hide partner categories all they want it doesn’t mean they are stopping.

It’s not a Facebook that is the Problem

Or at least not wholly. And while Twitter and other companies are also using this data, its the big data companies that should be looked at more carefully.

Cambridge Analytica stinks to high heaven but so do Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon and the Australian equivalent Quantium. 47% owned by Woolworths.  And the fact you rarely hear about them is what really stinks. Dark Gov has nothing on Grey Data (companies that collect dark data and actually do something with it, unlike typical companies and Gov that are just collecting it to, y’know, collect it).

Have you asked the Australian Gov how they are using Quantium’s data lately? No? oh deary me. 

Anyway this is from a report on big data from the FTC on what these types of companies are collecting and using.

Health Data for example

• Ailment and Prescription Online Search Propensity
• Propensity to Order Prescriptions by Mail
• Smoker in Household
• Tobacco Usage
• Over the Counter Drug Purchases
• Geriatric Supplies
• Use of Corrective Lenses or Contacts
• Allergy Sufferer
• Have Individual Health Insurance Plan
• Buy Disability Insurance
• Buy Supplemental to Medicare/Medicaid
Individual Insurance
• Brand Name Medicine Preference
• Magazines – Health
• Weight Loss & Supplements
• Purchase History or Reported Interest in Health Topics including: Allergies, Arthritis, Medicine Preferences, Cholesterol, Diabetes,
Dieting, Body Shaping, Alternative Medicine, Beauty/Physical Enhancement, Disabilities, Homeopathic Remedies, Organic Focus, Orthopedics, and Senior Needs

1984 wasn’t like 1984. But it is very much like 2018. And Privacy has gone and there are no organisations able to fight something that went from Beacon to underground dark Gov and grey data Building 8. Who will shine a light in a post -Beacon age?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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