Data mining, though sort of creepy in a very Big Brother way, is an unavoidable reality. While the idea of having my personal information gathered and analyzed is slightly concerning, it comes with the territory of living life online. The bottom line is that if you want to live “off the grid”, then you have to be completely unplugged. However, I do not think data mining is completely negative. It has its own value and can, in many cases, gather very helpful and valuable data.
Companies should address data mining in their terms of service, so that each user knows what specific information is being gathered, and for what it will be used. I also think users should have the option to decline having their information gathered.
From a retail standpoint, data mining can be incredible valuable. By collecting information on purchase history, I can (though I don’t) track customer behavior, buying trends and patterns, and effectively market to those who specifically shop online. You see this often on websites that ask you to make an account in order to make a purchase. This allows the site to track all your purchases and specifically market to you through email and social media based on these purchases. I recently browsed through J. Crew online, simply clicking on items that struck my interest, and never putting any of them in my cart. The following day, several of the items that I clicked on showed up in J. Crew advertisements on my Facebook newsfeed and in banner ads on websites I frequent, suggesting the items as “things I might like.” Coincidence? I think not.