April 13, 2018
Do you know that Map-Reduce was introduced by “Google”
Big Data started with just the web and then its application scope started spreading from the internet, social media to marketing, business, and healthcare. Social Media applications and search engines have contributed the most to the development of Big Data. Facebook has developed “Hive”. Twitter contributed to the development of a real-time analytics based “Strom.”
Now Big Data is being used in almost all across the industry. Recently, as you are aware a British firm – Cambridge Analytica made use of Big Data and analyzed the psychological trends to design the political campaigns. The way they collected the Facebook data is quite intruding.
Cambridge Analytica (CA) is a political consulting firm that started in 2013 which combines data mining, data brokerage and data analysis with strategic communication and was started by the SCL Group. Alexander Nix is the CEO of CA. They have been using Big Data for many political parties all over the world. The whole campaign was managed using Data and Analytics. In 2015, it used its services for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign and in 2016 they worked for Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign.
But how did they go around doing this and where did they get all the data from and how did they manage such a prediction for campaigns which are too good to be true?
Back in 2015, a third-party app called “thisismydigitallife” asked its users to allow them to access their Facebook data and account just like any other Facebook app. Most of the users without thinking just permitted the app to access their data and social media information. This app could get their hands on around 2,70,000 FB users. No one ever thought the information could be so valuable and useful until CA acquired all the data from the app developer. Ideally, the developer of the app – “thisismydigitallife” was not supposed to sell the information to anyone as per the Facebook data policies.
Michal Kosinski’s work is considered as the motivation behind the data analysis techniques that were used by CA. There is a high degree of resemblance between their works. In 2008, Michal Kosinski joined the Psychometric Center of Cambridge University and developed a profiling system using general online data, Facebook likes and smartphone data. It turns out that People can be analyzed better than friends or relatives only with a limited number of likes and individual psychological traits. This leads to a stage where targeting is a powerful tool to influence people.
The firm collects voter’s information using different sources. This could be demographics, consumer behavior, internet activities and other public and private sources.
it also claims to they use audience segmentation techniques providing psychographic analysis for a deeper knowledge of target audience. Audience segmentation can be understood as the process of dividing people into similar groups based on different criterions, for example, demographics, psychographics or product usage.
Once all the information is collected by performing all the above operations on the data, the firm is now sure about the needs and the target audience for a particular client’s benefit. So now, according to the user social media activity, preferences; needs are decided by the firm. Once this is decided, services are provided to the target users as per their likes and dislikes for the benefit of the client from all aspects—political arena to various government projects.
To collect the personality data, it uses surveys which are ongoing. Such surveys are conducted monthly that ask about people’s political preferences and try to access the psychological political orientation. They also collect information about the agendas the survey takers may support.
The surveys are taken on a monthly basis so that the information they have is updated from time to time.
CA has managed to pull off Big Data and analytics that it changed the whole political scenario for a country. It hit the presidential election and managed the campaign as good as a strategist just based on data. CA has proven to us the power of Big Data Analytics and its future. If it can make such a huge impact in its natal stage, imagine the impact it could make on the society when it will be advanced. Its combination of machine learning and AI can change the world for the best. Be it politics, business, marketing or the stock market, Big Data is opening opportunities in every aspect at every step.
One of those big data technologies that has a wide scope and useage is “Hadoop” if you wish to know more about the course:
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