The Power of Big Data

Tech companies are just scratching the surface of what they can do with Big Data. An enlightening article describes some of the power that comes with recording the daily lives and activities of hundreds of millions of people. In a 2012 experiment Facebook learned how it could alter the moods of users. Google routinely runs about 20,000 experiments per year involving users. Facebook even learned that it could motivate people to get out and vote — not inconsequential given that it can filter out individuals’ political persuasion. That experiment involved over 60 million people! Where else but online can a sample size that large be assembled, without their even knowing it …

Facebook and much of the rest of the web are thriving petri dishes of social contact, and many social science researchers believe that by analyzing our behavior online, they may be able to figure out why and how ideas spread through groups, how we form our political views and what persuades us to act on them, and even why and how people fall in love.

It’s likely researchers would like to figure out a whole lot more, given the magnitude of data available. Makes one wonder what interesting things they’re doing that are not being disclosed.

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