Margareta Pagano: We must tread carefully if ad firms use Twitter data to reach punters

WPP's research geeks will be poring over tweets to get a better feel for what customers are like

What an interesting week it's been for Twitter; from bogeyman to paragon in a few days. In Turkey the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denounced the microblogging site as one of the catalysts for the growing unrest spreading through his country.

Here's what Mr Erdogan is reported as saying: "There is a problem called Twitter right now and you can find every kind of lie there. The thing that is called social media is the biggest trouble for society right now."

By contrast, WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell and Twitter's Dick Costolo celebrated the power of the tweet with a new global alliance to share data. In other words, WPP's research geeks will be poring over Twitter's tweets to get a better feel for what customers like or don't like as well as using tweets to market new products or services; put simply, to sell stuff.

You can see why Sir Martin, pictured, and Mr Costolo are so thrilled. Twitter, which is just seven years old and said to be worth some $10bn (£6.5bn), has around 500 million users who on average "tweet" a message a day. For WPP, the alliance brings a new communication platform and a real-time window to what's happening on the street. It's a powerful tool as consumers are said to trust the advice of a stranger on social media more than they do any other form of advertising. Bizarre but apparently true.

So WPP's analytics operations around the world will be using computer algorithms and other metrics to scan the data to find out what people think, what they're doing, what they think about brands et al. They hope to be able to deliver more effective campaigns – product or service launches – and report back to clients in real time on what people think about the latest deodorant or whatever. As Sir Martin said recently, digging the data is where the power lies today.

For Mr Costolo the alliance will bring hard currency, eventually. Together with the recent deal signed with Publicis, the San Francisco-based service hopes to have reached sales of $1bn by next year as it gears up for either a float or a share sale over the next few years.

Sir Martin and Mr Costolo, and the brands they work for, might be happy with the deal, but what of the human cost? How will this real-time data be used – by brands or politicians – and how will it be interpreted? What questions should we be asking about data protection and privacy issues? As we are discovering, the US secret services are already dipping into private emails for surveillance; why not Twitter too? While Mr Erdogan was using Twitter as a veil – the protests at Gezi Park would have happened without the newsfeeds – what happens if the Turkish alphabet men get access to the data?

This is new and unchartered territory. Before taking a view, it's worth reading Jaron Lanier's brilliant book, You Are Not a Gadget, on why he believes the internet retards progress and glorifies the collective – the mob rule – at the expense of the individual. Mr Lanier also warned that the open-source approach of the web is allowing wealth to being concentrated in the hands of a few and another layer of rule: "the lords of the clouds".

Caan's wrong on job leg-ups

He's a card, that James Caan. The sheer hypocrisy of the new social mobility tsar's comments on why parents shouldn't help their children to find jobs is galling enough – his daughter works for his company. But what is even more annoying about Mr Caan's deliberations is that the reverse of what he said is true. Parents are not helping their children enough, particularly those down the social ladder, which is where the help is needed the most. One of the tragedies of modern life is the way too many families have abrogated responsibility in the hope that schools will do the work for them. Sadly, all too many parents and schools don't know enough about the growing number of jobs available in new industries and are therefore unable to best advise their teenagers. It used to be that youngsters, particularly men, would follow their fathers into trades or the professions and they would be able to do this through the tribal network of friends and family.

So Mr Caan: if you want to redeem yourself, you should suggest that all schools hold regular events at which industry leaders, parents and teachers bang heads and families are encouraged to network even more than ever. Then you kick away the ladder.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments