from the urls-we-dig-up dept
If you’ve been reading Techdirt for a while, you probably know that we’re not big fans of this myth: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” Regardless of whether or not you pay for something, some companies will still treat their customers horribly. Likewise, there are also some corporations that try to treat customers (or users) with respect without expectation of payment for the favor. That said, it’s easy to make mistakes that get mis-interpreted when it comes to analyzing consumer behavior. An unintentional email message to a targeted (or even un-targeted) group of customers can enrage a whole community. Consumer data is available to a lot of companies, but it might be wise for these companies to tread lightly with their data scientists. Here are just a few cases that data miners might want to check out.
- Facebook participated in some social experiments, but creating an “emotional contagion” resulted in some unwanted public attention. The actual ability for a social network to measure or effect various emotions is far from proven, but the potential to cause widespread distress through a social network is probably something users should be concerned about. [url]
- Shutterfly made a seemingly small mistake in mass-emailing a bunch of its customers a congratulatory message about an upcoming newborn. The photo printing service wasn’t even using data mining techniques (eg Target) to try to figure out who might be pregnant, but in this data-driven world, folks are trained to expect that companies may be trying to pry into their personal lives. [url]
- Social psychology has had some problems with scientific fraud, and thankfully, there are some investigators who are developing methods to find fake or massaged data. It’s hard enough to actually design psych experiments that have conclusive results, but sometimes the data can’t lie. [url]
- OKCupid admits to experimenting on its users, too. The difference with dating sites is that the people using them seem to be tacitly agreeing to be experimented upon. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.