May 31, 2019
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?
Trust and Ethics of Big Data in the era of Privacy Breaches, Fake News and Algorithmic Bias.
By Chrys Margaritidis
The Era of Big Data brought us the promise of better products, better online experience, and better services. Lately though this promise seems to be have been tainted. Security breaches of private data such as with Equifax and Marriott occur regularly. Attempts to swing elections one way or another with the distribution of fake news as in the case of Facebook and the most recent US general elections have become one of the most important topic about online behavior. And we often hear about the bias and discriminatory behavior of online tools such as Google’s search engine and Yahoo’s facial recognition application. Nevertheless, we still continue to use Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, and other online services the same way as before despite losses to their trustworthiness.
I seek to find an explanation to this apparent conundrum by examining the concept of trust. I start with the concept of offline trust and point at the distinguishing marks of online trust, and specifically online trust in corporations and companies. I then look at the trust-related cues we get from these corporations such as their track record, privacy policies, and their commitment to our online experience. A rational assessment of these cues should lead us to significantly decrease the use of the services they provide. I argue that the reason this doesn’t occur lies in the difference between trust and reliance; while we may lack trust in their services we still rely on many of these services for important aspects of our lives. I spend some time elaborating the difference between trust and reliance and how online norms and expectations seem to be based on reliance.
This is not the end of the story though. In the more speculative part of this presentation, I argue that trust is integrally related to our identities, sense of privacy and social practices. Since, reliance cannot play the same role trust plays in these relationships, either online or offline, we should hold online companies to higher standards that would merit our trust.