3 Questions to Always Ask About Big Data

For my Capstone class we’ve been discussing the social and ethical issues surrounding Big Data. Big Data is the collection of information and harnessing that information to produce useful insights and discover new value to good and services. Now in this context it doesn’t seem so bad, but the information they’re collecting and what they’re doing with it is the most important piece. I’m sure there are a decent amount of people out there who don’t know too much about Big Data. Well I’ve been studying it this last semester and I’ve learned a lot, but there is still a lot we have no idea about.


So when you go to a website, that company will attach a cookie to follow where you go after you leave their site. They collect this information and then use it to see what sites they should advertise on to get you to buy the product’s you’ve previously browsed. Sounds a little like invasion of privacy to me. Now this is only how most ecommerce sites use Big Data. Once they collect it they could sell it, keep tracking you or reuse it for an alternative purpose. The possibilities are endless.

There are many different ways to use Big Data. Sometimes you have to give your data to the company such as when you’re signing up for Facebook and other social media platforms. The next time you see this prompt think about these three questions first.

  1. How are they tracking me?
  2. Why do they collect it?
  3. What will they use this information for?

The best way for Big Data to become more known is by spreading awareness. So I ask you readers to bring it up in conversation with your friends. Share what you learn with others and discuss the possibilities of what can be accomplished. We’re moving into a future that will rely heavily on Big Data and having a knowledgeable society will only help it move towards a more positive outcome.

Since most people aren’t aware of the ways companies use Big Data, I want to make sure you understand what’s happening. So the next time you see an ad from Amazon or another ecommerce site, I want you to think about how that got there. Go Sherlock Holmes for about 10 minutes and do your own research. I’m sure you will be surprised on what you find.


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