Monday, 15 March 2010

MySpace markets users' data

From the New York Times:

"MySpace has taken a bold step and put a large quantity of bulk user data up for sale on startup data marketplace InfoChimps. Data offered includes user playlists, mood updates, mobile updates, photos, vents, reviews, blog posts, names and zipcodes. Friend lists are not included. Remember, Facebook and Twitter may be the name of the game these days in tech circles, but MySpace still sees 1 billion user status updates posted every month. Those updates will now be available for bulk analysis."

US video rental/download outfit Netflix were sued for breach of privacy (and words being had with them by the US Federal Trade Commission) for releasing "anonymised" user data as part of a(nother) contest to improve their recommendation engine. They recently settled the lawsuit and reached an agreement with the FTC. Update - now see also the open letter to Netflix from the authors of the original de-anonymization paper, Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov

It seems MySpace haven't been deterred by Netflix's experience. How easy will that data be to deanonymise, e.g. inclusion of zipcodes? (and latitude & longitude too).

More info in the New York Times article.

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