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As a  so called “newb” to the Data World, I am finding some interesting elements of Big Data that I believe the average person does not know about. Most of us see Big Data in the headlines, but do we know what it really is or how it works? After reading an article on consumers paying for data, I am beginning to see both the pros and cons to Big Data.

This article explains how consumers of products such as Fitbits or GPS systems are paying for the data they produce. Consumers are not actually sending in a check each month but are paying through what economists would call “barter”. Once the product is purchased, the personal data it produces is used by big companies such as Apple or Yahoo! to advertise more efficiently. These companies learn from the data to create ads personalized to your interests or hobbies. It is a brilliant marketing scheme, but is it ethical?

I have always been slightly creeped out by how the internet adapts its advertising to my interests at the time. For example, in my teens all the advertisements I received were about volleyball and dating apps, but now they are almost exclusively about wedding apps. The personal information these mega companies obtain through our data is making them mass amounts of money. Some might ask “Where is my share?” but this is where we get into the “barter” part.

Even though the sharing of data might seem like an invasion of privacy we must remember, nothing is free. We buy products like Fitbits and expect to receive continuous feedback on our health and sleep habits without paying for a subscription. The sharing of our data with big companies and advertising agencies is our payment.

So really it is up to you to decide if it is morally right or wrong.  Are big companies stealing your private information or is it worth the trade off to use these products that give us valuable information and feedback?

Click Here for some more insight into Big Data!


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