can social networks help in fraud prevention and should they?

Privacy, Internet and Marketing Mingle in Unexpected Ways

To many people, various social networks are just a means of keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances. They may be only dimly aware that these are also very efficient marketing tools, as the case of Cambridge Analytica clearly proves.


Cambridge Analytica, a company specializing in data crunching and analysis, was contracted by the Trump campaign. During the campaign, it obtained data on a number of Facebook users (this number is believed to surpass 50 million) but did not stop at standard demographics: voter class, employment, age and gender or the like.

CA proceeded to segment the data further, using psychographics to discern a person's personality and opinions, thus allowing the campaign to tailor its approach to voters in a way other campaigns have been unable to.


Psychographics has certainly proven to be a game changer when it comes to marketing and may yet be used for other purposes as well.

It allowed Cambridge Analytica to reverse engineer a person's personality profile using only their Facebook activity: pages and comments they liked, images and videos they chose to share and upload, etc. The accuracy of said profile was deemed extremely high, to the point that the model CA used was said to be as good as a spouse when it comes to predicting an individual's behaviour based on personality traits. 


If psychographics can make such reliable predictions based on a person's social network activity, what are its possibilities beyond marketing and electioneering?

Machine learning and behavioural analytics are already hard at work trying to detect fraudsters - could psychometrics become a useful tool in fraud prevention as well? Might they not only detect fraud in progress but also flag potential fraudsters by analysing their online behaviour? It would certainly raise issues with online privacy and may yet become something courts will have to take into consideration.

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