There is nothing new about companies that collect information about customers. What’s new is how much information has been collected and the many ways that so-called Big Data use what they gather.
When it comes to information about customers, the 21st century is much different than the last century.
So what? It doesn’t matter. Big Data is not that smart.
Yes, you can read all about the Big Data monopoly controlled by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and somehow, Apple gets thrown into the mix, but I’m here to tell you that much of what is called Big Data and their influence over customers and users is more akin to a big hammer that misses the nail most of the time.
Let’s start with Google.
I prefer the search engine giant’s search results better than DuckDuckGo, but I don’t care for the advertising so I use StartPage instead. Like most of us, I’ve been online since the mid-1990s so it’s likely Google, Facebook, Amazon, and maybe even Apple and Microsoft, have collected an enormous amount of information about me and my online habits.
How do they use it? Do Google’s search results influence me? Not as much as Google and its advertisers want. For example, I searched for Bing cherries. I like them. Where can I get them?
The search results bring up Wikipedia, a few pictures of Bing cherries, even some recipes. Oh, and some answers to frequent questions. Where the hell can I buy Bing cherrys, Google?
Alright, let’s go to Facebook. Much of American politics may have been tilted by misinformation on social media and alt-whatever websites, but Facebook is not very good at finding friends. I searched for an old childhood friend and found someone I thought might be her. I clicked follow. Wrong person. This one was from San Antonio and I’m from San Diego.
For the next month Facebook continued to slap me with People You Might Know… from San Antonio, and with names that match friends I already follow in San Diego. How stupid is that, Facebook?
Amazon is worse. First, when I buy a product on Amazon the company sends me a continuous stream of email messages telling me about similar products– as if I’m starting a collection of stainless steel appliance cleaner wipes.
Big Data doesn’t seem all that smart, does it.
Now, Apple gets bunched into the Big Data grouping but should not. Here is what Apple does with information about my shopping habits. When I shop at Apple online, the company will tell me that an accessory I might buy works with all my Apple gear.
Seriously, Big Data is not as smart as privacy proponents might think. Fake News, though, is a different story.