Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare are platforms for sharing personal information with friends, family, and colleagues. But they also provide an immense amount of data on individuals’ movements and behaviors. This data can be mined for predicting future behavior. Raytheon, a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation for weapons and military and commercial eletronics, has developed one such tool, reports the Guardian.
A video obtained by the Guardian shows Raytheon’s ‘principal investigator’ Brian Urch explaining how the Rapid Information Overlay Technology (Riot) software feeds check-in points and photographs into a mapping system. For example, RIOT uses photographs on social networks that exhibit latitude and longitude datapoints embedded by smartphones, thereby discerning precise location details. Raytheon says that it has not sold RIOT to clients but has shared it with the U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort to create a better national security system, reports Firedream.com.
Data mining is not new to the world of everyday business and continues to draw scrutiny from civic rights groups and people concerned about individual privacy. Still, programmers are working hard to analyze internet information and make forecasts about how consumers will behave with increasing accuracy. According to Forbes.com, leading companies are using predictive analytics to gain insights about customers’ habits from real-time data in an effort to compete in their markets, improve efficiency, and increase profits. Ethics aside, predictive modeling is part of the world of technology. To what degree personal data feeds into those analytics is up to each individual.