Data research

In 2018, to prove how easily soldiers' real-world actions can be manipulated via social media, researchers at NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (StratCom) conducted a red-team exercise in which they "catfished" members of the armed forces. Using information collected from Facebook
10 Apr 2019
An investigation by Bloomberg, disclosed that thousands of Amazon employees around the world are listening in on Amazon Echo users.
27 Jan 2019
In January 2019, the British transparency NGO WhoTargetsMe, Mozilla, and the US investigative journalism site Pro Publica reported that recent changes in the social network's code were restricting their ability to monitor political ads on Facebook. The company said the changes were part of a
15 Jun 2018
In June 2018, a panel set up to examine the partnerships between Alphabet's DeepMind and the UK's NHS express concern that the revenue-less AI subsidiary would eventually have to prove its value to its parent. Panel chair Julian Huppert said DeepMind should commit to a business model, either non
20 Aug 2018
In August 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first over-the-counter digital contraceptive, an app called Natural Cycles. The app, which analyses basal body temperature readings and monthly menstruation data to determine whether unprotected sex is likely to lead to pregnancy
16 Oct 2018
In October 2018, researcher Johannes Eichstaedt led a project to study how the words people use on social media reflect their underlying psychological state. Working with 1,200 patients at a Philadelphia emergency department, 114 of whom had a depression diagnosis, Eichstaedt's group studied their
07 Jul 2018
In a 2018 interview, the Stanford professor of organisational behaviour Michal Kosinski discussed his research, which included a controversial and widely debunked 2017 study claiming that his algorithms could distinguish gay and straight faces; a 2013 study of 58,000 people that explored the
06 Sep 2018
Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the New York City Police Department installed thousands of CCTV cameras and by 2008 in partnership with Microsoft had built the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center to consolidate its video surveillance operations into a single command centre that also
25 Jul 2014
Nearly 700,000 Facebook users were subjects of a research study where researchers changed randomly selected users' newsfeeds to be more positive or negative to study whether those users then displayed a more positive or negative affect in response. The experiment showed the power of Facebook's control over the News Feed and the algorithms that determine which of the possible pieces of content shows up at the top at any given moment.
28 Feb 2018
The Houston, Texas-based online dating startup Pheramor claims to use 11 "attraction genes" taken from DNA samples in its matchmaking algorithm. Launched in February 2018 in Houston with 3,000 users, Pheramor also encourages users to connect it to their social media profiles so it can datamine them
28 Feb 2018
In February 2018 Uber and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio announced the Cincinnati Mobility Lab, a three-year-partnership that will allow the city and the surrounding area in northern Kentucky to use Uber data for transport planning. Cincinnati, like many cities, is anxious to identify the impact of
30 Nov 2017
A report for the US National Academy of Sciences explains the methods used by a team of computer scientists to derive accurate, neighbourhood-level estimates of the racial, economic, and political characteristics of 200 US cities using the images collected by Google Street View in 2013 and 2014. The
23 Oct 2017
After investigation, the UK's privacy regulatory, the Information Commissioner's Office has found that two small sections of the written scripts used by Blue Telecoms, a marketing firm that made calls on behalf of the Conservative Party during the 2017 general election, crossed the line from
18 Aug 2016
In a presentation given at the Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining conference in 2016, researchers discussed a method of using the data generated by smart card public transport tickets to catch pickpockets. In a study of 6 million passenger movements in Beijing, the researchers used a classifier to
08 Nov 2016
In 2016, researchers at MIT developed a wristband device to automate tracking screen time based on an off-the-shelf colour sensor used to calibrate colour and brightness in TVs and other screens and a learning algorithm that could detect when a screen was nearby. The device was intended for use in a
24 Jan 2014
In 2014, DataKind sent two volunteers to work with GiveDirectly, an organisation that makes cash donations to poor households in Kenya and Uganda. In order to better identify villages with households that are in need, the volunteers developed an algorithm that classified village roofs in satellite
25 Dec 2015
In 2015, the Royal Parks conducted a covert study of visitors to London's Hyde Park using anonymised mobile phone signals provided by the network operator EE to analyse footfall. During the study, which was conducted via government-funded Future Cities Catapult, the Royal Parks also had access to
23 Feb 2016
A 2016 study from the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation found that in 95% of cases it takes as few as four of the apps users have installed on their smartphones to reidentify them within a dataset. Based on a study of 54,893 Android users over seven months, the
12 May 2016
In 2016, Danish researchers Emil Kirkegaard and Julius Daugbjerg Bjerrekær released a dataset onto the Open Science Framework that included details of almost 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid. The researchers created the dataset themselves by using software to scrape information from
02 Oct 2015
In 2015, researchers at Harvard University found vulnerabilities in the anonymisation procedures used for health care data in South Korea that enabled them to de-anonymise patients with a 100% success rate and to decrypt the Resident Registration Numbers included with prescription data relating to
21 Jun 2016
In 2015, the DNA testing company 23andMe revealed it had sold access to the DNA information it had collected from the 1.2 million people who had paid for genetic testing to more than 13 drug companies. One of these was Genentech, which paid $10 million to look at the genes of people with Parkinson's
16 Apr 2016
In 2016, 21-year-old Russian photographer Egor Tsvetkov launched the "Your Face is Big Data" project. He created the project by semi-secretly photographing passengers seated across from him on the St. Petersburg metro, then uploading the images to an online service called FindFace. FindFace's