By now you will have seen the Facebook generated map of NFL fan distributions by county. The map itself is fascinating for two reasons. Substantively it illustrates the power of state lines and regionalism. The latter is not surprising, but I suspect that the former may be. The boundary between the territory of the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants may not surprise you, but it aligns almost perfectly with where people shift from saying “pop” to “soda.” On the other hand you have strange phenomenon such as northern Mississippi and Alabama’s attachment to a New Orleans team which is much more distant than the Tennessee Titans (granted, the Titans are relatively new).
But a deeper more “meta’ point is that some of the most cutting edge and data swollen social science now occurs in the private sector. Facebook and Google are obvious cases. But credit rating and marketing firms also have a very deep understanding of your behaviors, and how you should behave. I do think people should be somewhat concerned about his, but I also suspect that if a really blockbuster fact was discovered “in house,” it would leak soon enough.