Facebook has become the world’s most popular social media site and has about 200 million members. I remember when I made my facebook, back in 2007, and how different the set up and privacy options were. Facebook updates their format quite often, which usually throws off the privacy settings everyone personalizes. In the past few years, Facebook has started to subtly advertising to its users. For those of you who have Facebook, have you noticed the many different ads the right side of your news feed and wall? Well, those advertisements are specially personalized to the user, also known as data mining. In other words, according to Mashable Social Media, “Companies are mining the social web, information posted publicly on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are fair game” (Betancourt 2010).

It is important to be aware of data mining and your privacy settings, because you never know who is out there searching the Internet, waiting to bump into your site and receive as much information about you as possible. Take a moment to look at your own Facebook page, or any other social media site, and observe what kind of advertisements companies have paired you with. Some of the advertisements I receive do not even pertain to me and some are precisely on target; take the “Film your way to $500” ad on the right. Companies have observed that I am a college student and that I have researched financial aid and insurance at least once on the Web. Some could find this strategy creepy and a violation of their privacy, but it has helped the digital ad revolution, creating three major changes. According to Ken Doctor, the author of Newsenomics, “data mining is growing into such a discipline—such a means of selling stuff to us better—that the buying and selling of behavioral buying-related data itself is a new booming business of its own” (Doctor 2010, pp.88). Although, this approach is helpful to those companies, it still puts our personal lives and interests out there in the World Wide Web.

The theory of data mining is defined as a new strategy of “retargeting” company’s previous consumers, by sorting through everything that is known about us, such as our interests and what we do, through the Internet (Doctor 2010, pp.88). The traditional marketing research involves “assessing the overall market for a good or service, surveying consumers about their likes and dislikes” (Hall, chron.com). The difference in traditional marketing and data mining is that data mining does not always involve surveying consumers. It uses targeting techniques, such as Cookies, which are data stored by a website browser and then information is sent back through the same browser, to gain information without consent.

Data mining does not always cause harm, and companies’ intentions are not to violate your personal bubble, but it is important to be aware of how your information is gathered and where it goes. Make sure to edit privacy settings on social media pages, and research how to enable cookies, or how to make cookies less invasive.


  1. Betancourt, Leah. (2010). How Companies are Using Your Social Media Data.

Mashable Social Media. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2010/03/02/data-mining-social-media/

2. Doctor, Ken. Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get.

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010. Print.

3. Hall, Shane. Media, Demand. Examples Of Data Mining Vs. Traditional

Marketing Research. Retrieved from:






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