According to a recent story in The New York Times, colleges are combing through alumni Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to figure out who — and how — they should ask for money. These schools often use third-party companies to gather their information and create custom pitches to appeal to alumni for donations.
One such company, EverTrue, evaluates alumni interaction with university Facebook pages to determine who’s interested in the school. The company also takes a look at people’s professions to see who’s potentially raking in the loot (and thus more likely to give). While this kind of deep data analysis isn’t new, it still feels vaguely intrusive and more than a little creepy.
“I do think there’s an ethical issue. It’s one thing to estimate someone’s wealth, but then to gauge how willing they are to give, you have to look deeply into a person’s life,” Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, told the Times. “I’m not sure alumni would appreciate or want that — if they knew about it.”
EverTrue currently works with about 300 educational institutions, and if their online alumni-stalking continues to prove successful, you can bet that number will grow by leaps and bounds. But for now, if you want to prevent your former school from finding out everything about you, carefully consider the information you like and share on the site. Especially the Facebook interactions you have with the school itself.
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