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Jun 30 2016
by Hannah Holzer

Is Facebook Disregarding Privacy To Get You More Friends?

By Hannah Holzer - Jun 30 2016
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If you have ever shopped at a grocery store and left with coupons for products similar, or identical, to the ones you just bought, then you know what data mining is. This term is being used and seen more often; data mining refers to an analysis of information to help with a later result. Just like a grocery store that offers coupons to lure back customers, this strategy is also being seen on online social media platforms, such as with Facebook’s utilization of user’s locations to find them friends.

In an article published by The Daily Dot, it was reported that Facebook may be using location tracking methods to display more possible friends under user’s "People You May Know" sidebar. The article, however, clarified that Facebook has not acknowledged their supposed data mining strategies through location services. Additionally, because an app can only access location services if it is turned on, if a user feels their privacy is being breached, they may turn off their location services to Facebook in the pre-loaded Settings app in iPhones.

Most recently, however, in a clarification posted by Fusion, Facebook announced that they do not use location services to aid in their tracking down of people you may know. After the publication posted an initial story about the utilization of user’s locations, Facebook now denies the accusation. In response, a Facebook spokesperson said to Fusion:

We ran a small test to use city-level location to better rank existing (“People You May Know) candidates and not all were aware that the test had ended. The test ran for four weeks at the end of 2015.

In this case, following the concern which arose after it was suggested to the public that their locations were known and being used, perhaps one conclusion one can reach is that, to the media-using public, data mining is an act which we accept privately, but which we can not accept publicly. There is very little complaint when Amazon suggests products to shoppers based on past purchases, but when your neighbor is suddenly a suggested Facebook friend, we all feel the need to solidify our privacy settings.

Lead Image Credit: PDPics; Aimer Pixabay via Wikimedia Commons.

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Hannah Holzer - UC Davis

Soon-to-be UC Davis freshman, journalist, film enthusiast & baker extraordinaire.

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