January 28 was International Data Privacy Day, which only served to highlight many of the tricky issues surrounding this very touchy topic. Twitter and Google took advantage of the festivities to point out just how many requests for information come from government entities, according to this report from AdAge. Of course, these companies aren’t exactly known for their sterling records in data privacy:
Neither Google nor Twitter mentioned that they themselves collect and store copious amounts of user data for ad targeting.
Facebook also marked the day, which led one interested observer to highlight how Facebook’s new “graph search” function raises many potentially serious concerns relative to data privacy (not to mention potentially embarrassing situations). Remember: even Mark Zuckerberg’s sister worries about Facebook’s data privacy approach. Ironically, just a few days earlier, many users received an email notice of a pending Facebook privacy payout. This settlement – $20 million out of Facebook’s pocket – stems from the “sponsored stories” feature and the way it turned many users into unwitting product endorsers.
Data privacy is just one dimension of the huge challenge faced by today’s digital businesses. Marketers seeking to offer cost-effective (or free) content with targeted ad content must demonstrate a respect for consumer rights, as Infinitive Analytics CEO Ken Harrop discusses here. It’s also a key consideration for many big data projects at companies everywhere.