Data Collection: “Harvesting” Personalities Online

A recent MIT Technology Review article details the efforts of a big data analytics company named Cambridge Analytica, which claims to use behavioral science insights in helping political candidates tailor their campaign messages according to the recipient’s “personality.” “Like other big-data analysis companies,” the article notes, “it categorizes voters on the basis of demographics and issues, but it appears to be the first to add personality typing to the mix. The company says it has assessed the personalities of all 190 million registered voters in the United States.”  And how were those personalities assessed? According to the article, which is titled  “How Political Candidates Know If You’re Neurotic Cambridge Analytica administers  (Links to an external site.) …  questionnaires online, promoting them using ads that promise to tell you the relative weight of your personality traits. The company says it has used these tests to “harvest” the personalities of several hundred thousand Americans. Even if you haven’t taken one of its tests, the company categorizes you by extrapolating. It concludes that you tend to be, say, agreeable or neurotic by matching statistical profiles made up of as many as 5,000 commercially or publicly available data points about you to the statistical profiles of people who actually took the personality tests and came out as agreeable or neurotic and so on. (It will not discuss the particulars of these statistical matches but says the data come from consumer database companies including Acxiom, Experian, Infogroup, and Aristotle, as well as the Republican Party’s voter file.) Is the company’s personality-“harvesting” method ethical? Why, or why not? Should people who attempt to answer the questionnaire be advised, ahead of time, that the data collected from those questionnaires will be used to improve the targeting of political messaging? In terms of disclosure, here’s what Cambridge Analytica’s Privacy Policy  (Links to an external site.)  currently includes under the header “How will we use information about you?”: “The information we collect will be used in order to gain insight into the behavior of the whole population. We, or our research partners may contact you for direct marketing or research purposes.”  Is this disclosure sufficient? Why, or why not? Consider the process of matching the profiles of questionnaire-takers to statistical profiles of other people who don’t choose to answer such questionnaires (profiles based on “commercially or publicly available data points” about those others). Is the assessment of personalities by extrapolation ethical? Why, or why not? If you do have concerns about this practice, are they rooted in perceptions of fairness? The question of autonomy? Privacy rights? Other? (For more on “consumer database companies,” see Pro Publica’s “Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You  (Links to an external site.) .”)

3635342 minutes ago

links mentioned:

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Data Collection: “Harvesting” Personalities Online
Get an essay WRITTEN FOR YOU, Plagiarism free, and by an EXPERT!
Order Essay

Homework Sharks
Order NOW For A 10% Discount!
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Our Advantages

Plagiarism Free Papers

All our papers are original and written from scratch. We will email you a plagiarism report alongside your completed paper once done.

Free Revisions

All papers are submitted ahead of time. We do this to allow you time to point out any area you would need revision on, and help you for free.


A title page preceeds all your paper content. Here, you put all your personal information and this we give out for free.


Without a reference/bibliography page, any academic paper is incomplete and doesnt qualify for grading. We also offer this for free.

Originality & Security

At Homework Sharks, we take confidentiality seriously and all your personal information is stored safely and do not share it with third parties for any reasons whatsoever. Our work is original and we send plagiarism reports alongside every paper.

24/7 Customer Support

Our agents are online 24/7. Feel free to contact us through email or talk to our live agents.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

We'll send you the first draft for approval by at
Total price:

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

We work around the clock to see best customer experience.


Flexible Pricing

Our prces are pocket friendly and you can do partial payments. When that is not enough, we have a free enquiry service.


Admission help & Client-Writer Contact

When you need to elaborate something further to your writer, we provide that button.


Paper Submission

We take deadlines seriously and our papers are submitted ahead of time. We are happy to assist you in case of any adjustments needed.


Customer Feedback

Your feedback, good or bad is of great concern to us and we take it very seriously. We are, therefore, constantly adjusting our policies to ensure best customer/writer experience.