Posted by: Michael Atkisson | October 26, 2010

Rapleaf: Big Brother Marketer and the True Halloween Ghouls

Rapleaf, a company that gathers personal information about you and sells your profile to companies who want to advertise to you, got caught also selling your name and other identifying information to the marketers too. It’s pretty scary how much information can be amassed as a result of a person’s online interactions. Check out the info graphic. It’s  very informative. See the original article at: Rapleaf – The Wall Street Journal Online – Interactive Graphics.

This does beg the question, however, if this much information can be gathered unbeknown to individuals, just how much can be gathered for a profile with the persons explicit help?

Why would someone want to help an organization build a profile for them? Well, online universities have a vested interest in helping their students complete a degree and land a job, it is good for the university’s reputation and it is money in the bank. Those students also have a vested interest in completing the degree and landing a job. It means a better lifestyle for them in the long run. If this is the goal for both school and student, they should be able to work together in order to create a profile of the student that will help the school know how best to aid the student in academic and job placement success.

What would a school do with all that information? It would integrate background information and correlate it with online behavior profiles created from the student’s interactions on the university’s website in order to know when and how to intervene academically and socially on the student’s behalf. The school would use target coaching to focus in on students who are most at-risk of not performing well and or not finishing the program. Learning Analytics can provide real-time dashboards to the schools to help administrators, teachers, councilors, and students manage and make sense of the aggregate information. If marketers like Rapleaf, the true Halloween ghouls, are using the information for their benefit, why not use the information for the benefit of the individuals themselves?


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