Oct 172012

“What about bad data?” an audience member asked me at a recent presentation where we looked at how social media and big data were changing business.

His question came from an experience where he had sacked a staff member who now refuses to change their status as being employed by his company.

The former employee wants to keep up appearances that they are still being employed and this causes reputation problems for their old employer.

All of this makes that LinkedIn information on the employee and the business junk data. Rather than being useful, it’s misleading noise and that is a risk to LinkedIn’s business.

This ties into Facebook’s problem with groups, if people can be added without their consent then the risk of mischief making and false information increases. In turn, this makes Facebook’s targeted advertising less effective.

Similarly, Google’s aim to become an “identity service” becomes less feasible when the information they’ve gathered isn’t accurate – again something that is increases with their opaque policies and poor support.

In Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil, a man is arrested and dies under interrogation because of a fly getting stuck in a typewriter. We’re in the age of a billion flies being stuck in typewriters.

LinkedIn, Facebook and all the other social media and “identity” services need to build in systems where those mistakes can be managed and the consequences limited. If they can’t do this then their value and relevance will be limited.

Big Data shouldn’t mean bad data, and we all need to be confident that the data about us and the data we use in our lives is reasonably accurate.

  3 Responses to “Big Data, Bad Data”

  1. Paul, LinkedIn have a way of removing someone from a corporate page;

    It would help if the employer had a corporate social media policy that was signed by the employee. Unfortunately many organisations don’t consider this until it’s too late.


  2. The significance of this issue is enormous. Every business (regardless of their adoption of Social Media) could be impacted.

    There won’t be a solution without the cooperation of the social services. As you say, they need it as much as we do.

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