How does Big Tech use data mining?

By Helena Miller

June 23, 2021

All of Big Tech collects a lot of data and utilizes data mining; consequently, these businesses become valuable assets in the global economy because collecting user data generates large earnings. After Facebook’s employees had developed apps for its business in 2008, they became very financially successful. As a result, Facebook received backlash for their expensive $375 developer fee. Even though it is expensive to become one of the leading businesses in the world, developers have adopted this trend and normalized it by creating additional services. These services were created so that they could provide data to the digital users. Employers of social media platforms continue to exploit these additional services to gain much more user data than is appropriate in order to generate massive amounts of profit. The most overt instance of this is when they ask for people’s personal information, such as: birthdays, geographic locations, emails, and phone numbers. This trend will prevail in an increasingly pervasive manner because the amount of data that these digital businesses will incur will exponentially increase. As a result, the algorithms will be able to execute more advanced tasks in the future, indicating that data mining won’t stop anytime soon.

What is data mining?

Data mining is the process of converting raw data into usable data. It is mainly used to reveal useful trends within the data. This cuts down the number of sources needed to make the transition smoother. It is not uncommon for small and medium business owners to assume that Big Tech only targets the most influential contributors to the economy. As a result, the smaller companies are unaware of how people’s lives are adversely affected by the stealing, leaking, and hacking of data. Furthermore, Malwarebytes Labs found that there is a lack of knowledge on how this data is kept and leveraged by companies to improve marketing. Companies share user data with third-party entities without their customers’ permission. These practices are important to maintain on your own, as there are currently very few government and business regulations regarding the privacy needs of internet users. Since the cost of a data mining attack is high and there is lax government and business regulation, it is essential for business owners to uphold the most effective practices and guidelines.

With profit generation, companies use data mining to generate profit. This process is two methods that can be utilized to demonstrate how well someone’s assets and revenue are generating profits. In order for effective profit generation to happen, someone’s business has become effective in employing the assets on his or her balance sheet. The recommended way to do this is by using an Asset to Profits comparison. It is used to compare and contrast how much profit per each dollar of assets on someone’s balance sheet the business has generated. After this phase, people look at someone’s profit margin. A profit margin measures how well someone changes their revenue into profits. Looking at each person’s profit margin is a helpful way to see how each person regulates and handles the business expenses.

The Effects of Data Mining on Users

The cost of a data mining attack is much higher than most people think. Businesses must uphold ethical cybersecurity standards in order for people’s privacy to be protected. Tulane University mentioned a study by the Pew Trust that reveals that 13 percent of Americans have had their social media accounts negatively affected by an unauthorized user. While social media platforms have many benefits, it is easy for people to hack people’s personal accounts. Hacking leads to stolen information, users being directed to malware, and other harmful activities. Through hacking, social media platforms gather and reap huge amounts of personal information with limited oversight by governments, businesses, and other establishments. As a result, these platforms have become enticing targets for cybercriminals. The sheer amount of hacking highlights how there is a lack of knowledge on how companies gather data from their interactions with social media platforms. 

The cost of selling user data per person is massive. In order to prevent this cost from becoming a burden on them, companies can adopt and integrate four kinds of free software: web activity, email receipts, credit card transaction data, and geolocation. Business News Daily infers that while companies take advantage of free software to promote their ads, they collect data from users and sell its data to smaller commercial enterprises. For a while, these kinds of data collection have served a multitude of uses. For example, Jumpshot’s antivirus app can track people’s web activity. Also, numerous alternative data companies can purchase anonymous credit card data from personal face apps to access more detailed information about how and where people consume.

Data mining incidents are not properly monitored by the American government. Despite some efforts to move towards better cybersecurity regulation, the only existing government intervention to protect data is designed to help workers of in-demand industries, such as healthcare, rather than all. As of now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) controls Americans’ data. Several of its laws have sought to protect the privacy of American consumers; but, they have failed to do so. They were implemented to enable Americans to exercise more control over what data companies could get access to and how they could use that data. During former President Obama’s administration, the FTC created a Privacy Bill of Rights to give people a set of rules that would give them more individual control, security, accuracy, and transparency over these issues. While this bill was a good start, the governance of these rights were not as good as was expected. Simplified choice is a process in which the members of companies provide their consumers with the choice of whether or not their data should be collected. As a result of the handling of the privacy bill, American consumers did not receive simple privacy policies that they could understand and use. Until more efficient laws are passed and used, Americans remain susceptible to data mining attacks.

While government bureaucracy may not have an excellent privacy regulation, companies can do the following to protect their own commercial enterprises. The Federal Communications Commission, (FCC), has an excellent list of best practices on their website for small business owners that might not be accessible to many extensive IT departments. The FCC recommends teaching employees basic security policies, sustaining high-quality security software and operating systems together with standard firewalls, creating a backup plan that includes cell phones and hard copies of vital data, having a steady Wi-Fi network, protecting employees’ company credit cards and other financial tools, and making sure that physical access to computers and online access to accounts is properly fixed through the use of passwords and authentication. There are numerous ways for all businesses in the United States to enhance Americans’ privacy online, but the FCC’s guidelines are a great first source to view.

Measures Consumers Can Take to Protect from Data Mining

Implementing better privacy practices is a necessary step for any business in order for it to remain successful in today’s world. As it gets easier to mine someone’s data, it also becomes easier to get access to how to protect yourself from them. Clearly, not enough business owners do the essential things to protect their employees against data mining incidents. Given the tremendous cost and weak governance practices of the FTC, it is vital that, until more logical policies are made and enforced, business owners understand the latent results of internet users’ data mining on their employees. humanID is an option that companies can use in order to enhance their employee’ privacy without incurring huge costs. For more specific strategies on protecting user privacy, take a look at this article.

How humanID’s Technology Protects User Information

With humanID’s technology, users benefit from protected user information, uncollected data, and enhanced privacy by using a product that utilizes hashing. A hash is a line of letters and numbers. It is produced by a one-way, irreversible mathematical formula. Our technology hashes a user’s phone number into these irreversible, random numbers. Because hashing goes one way, its numbers and letters cannot be traced back to the users’ electronic devices. The thing that separates identifying hashes from alternative authentication methods is that it does not allow for data leakage because this process prevents algorithms identifying the users. In this way, no one can interpret the original data. As a nonprofit, humanID is totally committed to protecting user safety. Therefore, what better way to offer your client a more secure experience than to partner with us?