Honesty in digital age

Ella Cutter, Opinion Editor

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With a rise in data specialist groups analyzing data points to be used for advertising and targeted content, ethics becomes a central issue in digital media. These ethics are tied to a concept many of us are familiar with, something called data mining.

Data mining is the analyzation of large collections databases to find patterns, trends and information, according to SAS Insights. This method has been successfully used by many corporations for retail, marketing, e-commerce and even in the healthcare sector. It helps analyze customer’s behavior in terms of what products they’re looking for, or what they like to buy.

When something such as data mining is used as widespread as it is in today’s digital society, it brings to light questions over the ethics of the practice. Companies using consumer’s data and information has always been a grey area, and is something that will not improve as we make more and more advances in technology. 

With the rise of data mining usage in many different sectors, the concern that companies are using consumer’s information for profit also rises. An instance of these tensions rising to a climax was when people discovered that Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to pay for access to information on 50 million users before the presidential election in order to create politically manipulative ads, according to Information Age.  

There remains a lot of questions about data mining because of the difficulty to navigate the subject. I believe that it should be our right to be aware of the data that companies are collecting on us. Any company that engages in data mining practices should broadcast this when a user visits their website, and ask for explicit permission. 

An increase in transparency and communication is one of the only ways to make this situation more palatable for consumers. 

This idea gets a little more tricky when it comes to government data mining in order to combat terrorism, and business data mining in order to reduce fraud and identity theft. I would obviously let businesses have my information for these things, because they’re going to benefit me in the long run and possibly help me out. Manipulative ads and websites though, I could do without. 

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