Jargon Watch: the Brokeback Mountain factor

A US court case about the way that public data mining of anonymised consumer data infringes on consumer privacy, possibily even endangering livelihoods was discussed on the Wired Threat Level blog.

Netflix open sourced the development of their recommendation system to get a 10 per cent plus improvement. However, researchers had been able to map Netflix reviews to public personas via matching with reviews on IMDb. Journalists had also been able to find internet users when AOL released anonymised search data.

These choices can also be used to make assumptions about the consumers personal life: addictions, sexuality and politican persuasion.

According to Wired:

The complaint calls that the Brokeback Mountain factor, arguing that marketers will suck up the data, combine it with other data sets and start pigeon-holing people into marketing categories, based on assumptions about the movies they rated.

When does targeted become too targeted and how healthy is it for marketers to be able to ‘dumpster dive’ our lives online? Admittedly in the UK for many people supermarkets through their loyalty card schemes could already do a similar exercise.