Big Data, Democracy and The Path Not Taken

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TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.


Computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck’s TED Talk, ‘“The Curly Fry Conundrum: Why Social Media ‘Likes’ Say More Than You Might Think,” performs a critical public service: enlightening Internet users about how little control they really have over their personal information in an environment where even a seemingly benign ‘like’ of a fast food item can be used to predict highly personal user traits. Those who already make a conscientious effort to protect sensitive information about their finances, medical or sexual history, political or religious allegiances will be especially disturbed to learn the extent to which their online discretion can be thwarted by increasingly sophisticated algorithms combined with the power of large commercial data sets.