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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm it was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf plays a World War II soldier in forthcoming drama Fury
films

Eccentric Fury star, 28, reveals he is 'not a really confident actor'

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

News
people
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

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past