They Are Mining Our Data

I don’t know many of the technicalities behind data mining. I will say that this topic has many people afraid, myself included, that we will eventually have no privacy left and no way to protect ourselves. My biggest concern with data mining is that the public will not be able to prevent businesses and internet bots from taking our information and using it to their advantage. I think I may have mentioned earlier in the semester that I was shopping around on Amazon for a gift for someone, but didn’t automatically buy anything. After going back to Facebook, I saw an advertisement for a product I had just looked at on Amazon. To be fair, that’s the product I ended up buying, but it still was a little creepy that Facebook was able to get my information from Amazon and post the ad on my profile that quickly. But what if Amazon starts making suggestions you didn’t search for on their website? If it has your credit card information and your address on file, Amazon, or any other website where you store personal information, could steal your identity or do other things that you won’t even find out about until there’s nothing you can do about it. This rarely happens, but it doesn’t mean it won’t.

If I were creating ethical guidelines for my organization to collect data, the most important one is to be transparent about what data you are using and for what purpose. For instance, if my future blog were to ask about what concerts you’ve been to recently or what area of the country, or world, you live in, I would inform my audience that I was collecting that particular data to shape my content. I would also tell my audience that they don’t have to divulge any information they don’t want to, but the more they give me, the more tailored the content will be. Finally, if it was at a point where I would be selling a product, which I don’t know that I ever will, I would give customers the option of storing their credit card information or not. I would let them know there is a greater risk in storing your information, but if they didn’t they would have to enter it every time they make a purchase.

There’s a big difference between storing personal information for recreational or business use and storing it because of national security. I bring up several situations that have caused chaos in the nation over the last several years, such as the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook school shooting. If the data mining of all of these individuals responsible for these tragedies could have prevented them from happening, I would be completely supportive of that. The only reason I would justify intelligence services data mining is for the physical and financial safety of all people that could potentially be involved.

Why I Trust Michael Slezak

It is very hard for me to trust someone I’ve never met. For me to trust someone on social media means that many of the characteristics involved in trust–eye contact, body language and tone of voice to name a few–cannot be analyzed. All I have to go on is the social media content being presented to me and how others react to it. So when I was asked who I trust on social media, one name popped in my head. Michael Slezak is a name I’ve mentioned several times in other blog posts as one of my favorite entertainment journalists/critics. I may not always agree with his opinions, but I always respect them.

I follow Michael Slezak on Twitter, his main social media channel of choice. I just found out that he has a personal Facebook profile of which I’m scared to send a friend request because I think he’ll either deny it or ignore it because he doesn’t know me. That’s a dream I don’t need crushed right now. Most of his Facebook posts are public though, so I can view them without needing to be friends with him.

I respect Slezak as a journalist because he is always honest and never afraid to speak his mind. This bleeds into the content he posts on social media as well. He will shamelessly plug certain contestants on American Idol or The Voice with no apologies. If you’ve watched even one episode of his weekly web series Reality Check on TVLine (I’ve watched almost all of them), you know that Slezak actually has plenty of technical musical skills. So even though his favorites are not always my favorites, he backs up his choices with proof of their skills. He certainly has the authority on social media to make people listen to what he has to say. He is one of those people that can get away with self-promotion on social media because he is always so accurate.

His helpfulness on social media may be a little unconventional, but it’s there. He doesn’t respond to every comment on Facebook or every tweet on Twitter, but when he does, it makes an impact. He is constantly sharing other people’s content or retweeting things sent to him by fans or co-workers, showing that he’s willing to promote others as well as himself. He has shared personal details of his life, like being a huge fan of horse racing and being an openly gay married man. Anyone who is as honest as he is in his work and his personal life has earned my trust on social media.

I don’t necessarily think Michael Slezak gains anything from having my trust on social media right now. He has almost 34,000 other people that trust him on Twitter and Facebook as well, so I doubt it would make much of a difference if I trusted him or not. However, when I make my mark in the music criticism and social media world, he will be listed as one of my biggest influences. What Slezak could gain from having my trust is career longevity. I could bring a new audience to him that he currently doesn’t have. As long as he keeps producing top-notch social media content, he can have as long a career as he wants and he will always have my trust.