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Big Data and Facebook

Big data, is a very big term without a specific definition. When some data is big and requires to be stored, managed, analyzed then the scenario of big data comes in. The overwhelming amount of data is broken down using 5 v’s (something that contains data available in these measures- velocity, volume, value, variety, and veracity).

This sort of data is mainly obtained from internet or the internet of things (IoT). When we speak about internet, Facebook is one of the most popular social networking site known to this generation. In general, there are many competitors but whenever someone asks a name of a social site it stands tall. It is still the synonym for social networking site. But, have you ever wondered why? and how?

Facebook is a platform where we share our details and every status of our life giving everyone to view for free. The data shared in Facebook is not only viewed by people that take personal interest in you but also advertisers who watch even though you have set your account to private so that they can cash on the interest that you post regarding on their brand. In this manner, Facebook contains huge amount of data.

So here’s a study of how Facebook has been one of the most well established companies in the world at gathering our data and turning it into profit through big data.

More than one fourth of the world uses Facebook on daily basis. Gathering data from the users is its primary business model. Their income directly depends on the number of ads that attract the user base. Previously, a tool called ‘beacon’ was used to extract user details to perform and produce analysis. Beacon was subjected to cause breach of privacy so big company like Facebook try not to use it as in long run this breach might bring them trouble.

Now, Facebook has found another way to gather data. There are several tabs in Facebook which It asks for the basic details from the users directly. This has made it very easy for Facebook to get over with security and privacy complaints and user too are willingly flowing data in thinking that it will be a public record. These details like age, gender, interests and others helps in understanding the nature of a user and their interests hence, anyone who sees on user’s page will know how to market that individual and sale their product.

Google too collects data and uses it but the difference between Google and Facebook is that Google uses its “best guess” based on sites we are visiting while Facebook explicitly asks for user details and requires no guessing algorithm. Advertisers choose this direct approach as guessing algorithm might sometimes be misleading that is why advertisers find it better to market through Facebook.

Not only in advertising, big data also plays a major role in other features of Facebook like facial recognition, recommended pages/posts and reminders.

Every time a user uploads a picture you might have noticed that there is a recommendation to choose location and tag people. This recommendation comes as Facebook can predict the location and people through data mining algorithm. Facebook can predict the people in a photograph by recognizing it from another picture, this data is stored in their records, the algorithm searches through the records matches and makes a prediction. This feature makes Facebook easy to track people and their activity. Recently, Facebook has added a new feature – memories / on this day. Memories work on complicated algorithms where your account is compared with that of all your close friends every day and makes up a small video with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) which you can share in your wall. Similarly, by keeping track of the calendar, Facebook reminds you what had happened in the past on that day. Birthday wishes can be auto generated, and so are the friend suggestions. This is all done with the help of algorithms searching in the data.

Since, Facebook can analyze big data users use Facebook to set up their online business too. It works better in Facebook than in their own websites because here the user can get in each and everyone’s wall and advertise the product which is not possible through website marketing. There are features to boost your product/post. In this, Google analytics feature is also handy. User can view insights about how his post is performing and also the suggestions to be taken to reach higher number of audience.

All the process which is happening constantly behind our Facebook page is set up on a strong foundation of big data. Few may consider it as security violation and few as a strategy to approach people. Facebook is a milestone for how a business could reach out to users and for users that are socially active be it of any age group. Big data tools are changing every day, coming up with new approaches and faster speed.

We can consider big data in Facebook to be one of the latest and enormous contribution to the Facebook user base.


Architha Reddy is pursuing M.Tech in NITTE, Bangalore. Apart from studies she also researches on different topics in Computer Science and contributes write-ups.

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