What can you do to stop #BigData from controlling you?

I know by now everyone either really knows what BigData is or at least has a general understanding. As a person in the field, I have great appreciation to all that is digital. I wrote many times about the importance of being effective in B2B marketing and even detailed how tracking needs to be done in this post about campaign tracking; a.k.a building BigData. But I have recently read an article here about how data contributed to building personas of individuals to control how they vote. Yes, I used the word control cause with bigdata we can define, or as per the article, predict to a high degree the personality of the individual being targeted.

Psychometrics \ Psychographics

The article talks about the science of Psychometrics also called psychographicsthat focuses on measuring psychological traits, such as personality. It then relates that to a model developed back in the 1980s that aimed to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the “Big Five.” These are:

  1. Openness (are you open to new things?),
  2. Conscientiousness (are you a perfectionist?),
  3. Extroversion (are you sociable?),
  4. Agreeableness (are you considerate and cooperative?) and
  5. Neuroticism (do you easily get upset?).

Based on these elements that are also called OCEAN, I quote:

With OCEAN, we can make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us

How is this possible?

As per the article, the methodology was there but the research, as always, lacked the data until the #Internet came along and then the #WEB, and finally, the cherry on the cake, social media or to be more specific, as per the article, #Facebook.

What Facebook and all the other social media channels have is loads and loads of data that we provide every day willingly and unconsciously since we know that data protection laws are there to prevent these companies from actually revealing our identity. But what we seem to be oblivious of is that our personality is basically all what marketers, or as in this case, political candidates, really need and no apparent law exist to prevent such data from coming out. In fact, what we Liked on Facebook was public knowledge until they, meaning Facebook, realised someone else was benefiting from that and they were left out.

Is #BigData enough?

The simple answer is NO; data is not information until we apply some logic to it and build patterns that can provide predictions. Even with predictions, as the name implies, we cannot pass those as facts. But with more data, predictions have higher accuracy rates and it is generally seen that more people are predictable once we identify their type or personality including the characteristic of being predictable. Which translates to highly targeted and can be controlled through directive messaging to do or stop doing something.

What does that all mean?

I am a marketer and building personas is part of my job definition. I have to say that marketing is all about targeting and being more effective vs the old days of mass media. But at the same time, pushing messages to make someone buy a product from one brand vs another, or buying anything now vs later just because the message appeals to their personality does not really feel like control. You can argue that it is, but does it really change their lives ! Does it take away something from them, like their freedom ! Does it have consequences that might impact their future or families !

Yes, I am back again to what the article, alarmingly, points out to is that #Bigdata in the hands of governments, political candidates, and large corporations can in fact control our lives and shift the course of our future.

I would think twice before I click Like on something and might even stop filling in anonymous survey’s, cause until such patterns can be protected; #BigData is in control !

** Personal thanks to the people who wrote the article and the research done behind it.

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