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. 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).
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
• 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?