Social media mining – getting it wrong

August 28, 2011

The MIT Technology Review reports in an article entitled ‘When Social Media Mining Gets it Wrong’  how placing too much relevance on social network data can come up with the wrong answers, particularly when one is employing facial recognition software. The researchers reported that whilst on a third of occasions they were able with face recognition to get to the research subjects’ Facebook pages and from there determine part of their social security number, along with other facts. As the paper recognises, getting a third correct means that two-thirds are incorrect and on this basis discourages assumptions being made from such searches. The researchers even developed a mobile ‘phone app to do such work – imagine if the police were to employ such technology openly, the number of wrongful arrests that might be made!

The MIT paper also reveals other research done on Facebook pages, but again recommends avoiding the use of such data for crucial decisions – you have been warned!