Information Ethics

Our Information’s Importance to Corporations {Comments Off on Our Information’s Importance to Corporations}

by Tyler K

In the Guardian article chosen, the author describes how Wal-Mart has recently purchased Facebook’s popular “Social Calendar” application, and the implications of the purchase – the corporation now has access to the millions of users, and all of the friends of the users that they may refer to using the application. The author goes on to describe the future role of information, and how information on people, as consumers and for other roles, is quickly becoming a massive component of the modern world. The article details how important information really is, “Facebook’s projected $100bn value is based on the data it offers people who want to exploit its social graph,” (Krotoski, 2012) – essentially, the success of the social media site relies heavily upon offering all of the information the user believes is just to be shared with friends. This leads to a discussion on the future of individual privacy and what having information online might lead to – it even refers to my previous blog about Target analysts discovering a woman is pregnant before even her father can! The author chooses the phrase “aggregated data,” or “Big Data” to describe what is happening to all of the information on us online; powerful organizations are collecting various facets of data about individuals, whether it be to market to them better, determine whether to hire individuals (several recent cases involve companies asking for Facebook passwords, or simply collecting the information on their own), and one example even details using social media to gather information on a man that attempted murder! read more...

Target’s Database Analysis Techniques & the Ethics Battle {4}

by Tyler K
According to a recent article in the New York Times by Charles Duhigg, Target has managed to utilize its massive stores of information on their customer base to increase their Marketing Department’s power with new analysis techniques – including determining if a customer is pregnant, whether the customer wants the Corporation to know or not.  Essentially, the article goes on to explain how Target, “…has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores,” (Duhigg, 2012).  With every unique set of customer information, customers are given a unique ID, and from there, each purchase is scrutinized – what was bought, where and when it occurred, and how often these purchases happen.  A statistician that was interviewed by the writer of the article states that he was approached by the Marketing Department for Target, and together they created a set of indicators that would reveal, if purchased frequently enough or in conjunction with other key items, would imply that the customer might be expecting.  Since new parents have massive marketing potential, the company would then focus on sending coupons and advertisements to the expecting customer with baby products and other goods.  In one extreme instance, an enraged father entered a Target in an uproar that Target would be marketing baby products to his high-school daughter, only to apologize via phone a while later, stating, “ ‘It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology’,” (Duhigg, 2012). read more...