Big Data

Forget Whatsnoop, anyone can mine big data from groups

The current blockbuster seems to be ‘Saving Privacy Ryan’. From the Chairman to the chai-man, everyone’s Signalling concern and sending out distress Telegrams because WhatsApp changed its policy, and allegedly has enough leaks to give Mr Assange a complex. Though the WhatsApparatchiks have scrambled to pull the chain, maybe the platform has missed the train.

But whatsthefussabout? If you live in a large cooperative housing society as most people now do, bar the part-time bai and Mukeshbhai, you will perforce be on some inhouse WhatsApp group. And from this closed but open source you can mine a wealth of data across the economic-social-parental spectrum.

Lockout provided the easiest key. Since residents couldn’t go out, arrangements were made for the mountain to come to Mahomet aka the local bania shop brave enough to pull up shutters. A ‘Kirana Konnect’ sub-group was swiftly formed. Naturally every owner/ tenant family jumped hungrily on board, posting the demands of boss, biwi, bachhey and live-in. So, those early shut-down months exposed enough inside info on people’s consumption patterns and behaviours to make a killing on the data marketplace – or script a sequel to The Social Dilemma.

Since gated communities comprise the haves and the have-mores, monetisation would be hacks’ play. The length of the list was the first identifier of the Last of the Big Spenders. The items on it further refined the search. Companies would pay huge sums for info on those ready, willing and eager to order the bluest of cheese, the silkiest of tofu. The number of junk snacks/sauces/ sugary drinks flagged the presence of kids, a password for products depending on pester power. The ‘Organic Only’ coterie was a lucrative sucker-segment. Any which way, these lists could help put the relevant house before the relevant cartel.

Commercially exploitable info concealed in innocuous gated-community groups hasn’t dried up post-lockdown. The data sleuth can still find rich pickings from the kind of products and services that residents now inquire after. Larger market intelligence to drill-down reach can be gleaned from WhatsApp posts asking for neighbourly endorsements for the most effective degchi-dealing dishwasher or robo vacuum cleaner. Nah, The Last Whatsupper won’t end the trend of corporates covertly feeding off group platforms.

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Alec Smart said: “The once ‘Ugly American’ abroad looks uglier at home.”  



This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.


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