Although your Facebook account may be locked to friends only, that doesn’t mean ostensibly anonymized comments you make won’t be provided to the blog Politico by the social network for analysis in the lead up to the 2012 election.
Yes, Facebook is at it again, doing their digital version of walking in while you’re peeing and making you yelp and close the door. It’s a niggling doubt we users have about providing so much direct data and indirect demographic information to Facebook, but not to participate would be like not attending the internet’s biggest party 365 days a year, so we do it even though we know stuff like this is inevitable.
Comparing the process to Google’s Trends feature, the blog AllThingsD explains that all mentions of candidates will be fed into a sentiment analyzer to determine in-depth how the country’s Facebookers are reacting to the contenders as the election draws nearer:
A partnership between Facebook and Politico announced today is one of the more far-reaching efforts. It will consist of sentiment analysis reports and voting-age user surveys, accompanied by stories by Politico reporters…. Most notably, the Facebook-Politico data set will include Facebook users’ private status messages and comments. While that may alarm some people, Facebook and Politico say the entire process is automated and no Facebook employees read the posts.
To wit- what could possibly go wrong? Given the scope and the massive mine of data available for analysis, the cynic in us expects this initiative to blow up into a lawsuit or other type of scandal any day now. The darker downside is that a less deserving candidate can detect and minimize flaws, optimizing their campaign in a way that could negatively impact the election’s outcome.
Do you think Facebook should be granting such wide-ranging access to Politico based on what really should be private user data?