The Darkness in Data: Unravelling the Impact of Social Media, Big Data and Psychometrics on Privacy

Vesselin Popov (University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre)

Decisions are made by and about our digital personas every millisecond. Every online interaction contains psychological information about the user that can – with the right tools – be extracted and used for a range of purposes, including personalisation. An algorithm with access to your Facebook Likes can more accurately predict your personality than your own mother, but the level of trust we vest in the users of these technologies (whether they be companies, governments or other individuals) does not always correspond to the utility or value of sharing our data in the first place. Technologies that embrace the darkness in data – its noisy, unpredictable human element – are those that ought to prevail. This talk will treat personalisation and privacy as allied goals, rather than conflicting ideals, and explore how social media, Big Data and psychometrics can work together to enhance both these qualities in our digital experiences.

About Vesselin Popov
Vesselin Popov is the Business Development Director for the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, a multidisciplinary research institute specialising in online behaviour and psychological assessment. Vess is responsible for the Centre’s commercial partnerships and oversees a range of projects to increase the understanding and use of Big Data Psychology in business and the community. He identifies areas where psychometric techniques can deliver the greatest impact and drives product development strategy, helping to put cutting-edge tools in the hands of citizens.

Vess also coordinates Apply Magic Sauce, a battery of predictive algorithms based on over 6 million users’ psychological and social media data. Apply Magic Sauce API translates digital footprints of human behaviour into accurate psycho-demographic profiles. It has had a tremendous impact on public awareness and engagement with this area of research, and supports academics and businesses around the world in enhancing privacy and personalisation in the digital age.