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Facebook to turn teens into virtual Don Drapers

Jon Hamm who plays Don Draper in a scene from the series Madmen.
Source: AMC
Jon Hamm who plays Don Draper in a scene from the series Madmen.

Now do you understand Facebook's privacy settings?

In the same week that a Florida teen was arrested based on a Facebook comment boasting about her role in a schoolmate's suicide, Facebook has unveiled some big changes in its teen privacy settings.

(Read more: Facebook pushes both ways on privacy)

Teenagers can now post status updates, videos and images that can be seen by the whole world. The changes also allow teens to limit the number of people who can see their posts, in a typical counterintuitive, head-scratching privacy duo from Facebook when it comes to its mind-boggling terms of service.

The New York Times didn't mince words in getting to the bottom line of the teen privacy changes, and wouldn't you know it, Facebook isn't just thinking about protecting teens: "While Facebook described the change as giving teenagers, ages 13 to 17, more choice, big money is at stake for the company and its advertisers. Marketers are keen to reach impressionable young consumers, and the more public information they have about those users, the better they are able to target their pitches."

The big "teen-friendly" change is that posts are friend-only by default.

(Read more: Pop heroes: Lady Gaga and big data)

Tweet away; it'll make somebody else money

One of the reasons for the Facebook privacy changes is that competitors like Twitter are eating into its share of teenager attention. Privacy watchdogs worry about what Facebook does with all of that teen data, and they should worry about the fact that every single tweet sent by a teen is public and permanent. And Twitter does intend to monetize that data; it's a linchpin of its IPO road show. The Financial Times reported this past week that Twitter plans to use data about who its users follow and what they tweet about to target ads beyond its own promoted tweets. Twitter is still not profitable, though its revenue has grown to $270 million since it unveiled the promoted tweets feature.

And Twitter has some big salaries to pay if it wants to win the battle for Silicon Valley. Among Twitter's highest-paid executives is Christopher Fry, senior vice president of engineering, who raked in $10.3 million last year, second only to CEO Dick Costelo among Twitter compensation packages. It's the leverage of what's known as the 10x engineer in Silicon Valley: "Having 10x engineers at the top is the only way to recruit other 10x engineers," Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy Ventures, an early-stage venture fund, told Reuters.

(Read more: 10 oddest data findings about you)

A new bag of Silicon Valley money for your big data idea

Corporate spending on big data will eclipse corporate spending on IT by ... tomorrow, or something like that, according to the best and the brightest young minds at McKinsey & Co. And that prediction is one of the reasons some of Silicon Valley's best-known venture capitalists just committed more than $10 million to a new early stage fund for big data start-ups.

Data Elite is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, among other big names. It was founded by Tasso Argyros, founder of Aster Data, which was sold to Teradata for $300 million in 2011. Data Elite will offer a three-month program beginning in January. The fund will choose up to 10 start-ups and give each $150,000 in investment. Those chosen will have access to advisers who work at Facebook, Zynga, Netflix and LinkedIn, among other data analysis-oriented companies.

(Read more: Who is viewing your Instagram and profiting from it?)

Filling big data's shoes, with small steps

How can one simple pair of black, size 10.5 Nike shoes represent the truth behind Big Data? Let the CTO of big data company Tibco, Matt Quinn, explain. In a post for AllThingsD, he does it in a way that's become a popular rebuttal to the overuse of big data as a term. The big data story is really about the little data story, "data is what happens every moment of every day. The humble pair of shoes represents small data. It's a pair of shoes. It doesn't pretend to be a space shuttle. But that pair of shoes has generated a massive quantity of data in its journey to you."

Didn't you know the future was "small data," no matter what McKinsey and Data Elite say? Facebook knew—they just acquired the small data future, according to Quartz. Specifically, it's the story behind Facebook's acquisition of Onavo, an Israeli start-up.

Edward Snowden's back! And in more ways than one

It's been a busy week for Edward Snowden & Co. A new trove of Snowden's NSA secret files were given to the media from Snowden's "Moscow bureau" showing that the National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, The Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, Snowden said in an interview published in The New York Times (and conducted via encrypted email over a longer period) that he gave nothing to China, because he was able to outsmart its state security apparatus, and took nothing to Russia, so don't go calling him a double agent. In fact, he said again, he would just like Americans to have a debate about what kind of privacy invasions they will accept. Snowden also told the Times that its report about him previously attempting to steal information when he worked at the CIA was wrong (something the CIA has also come out to say), though the Times hasn't retracted the story.

The Edward Snowden economy was in high gear this past week, too: The first big Hollywood movie of the Leaker Society opened in the U.S., "The Fifth Estate", a take on the life of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange. And one of Snowden's primary press gatekeeper, former lawyer turned journalist Glenn Greenwald, left The Guardian to run a new journalistic enterprise funded with $250 million by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Here is Omidyar's explanation for his foray into journalism with an "enemy of the state."

(Read more: 10 surprising ways companies are using your data)

Silicon Valley's next big market: Zimbabwe

Quick quiz: Which of these countries is not among the global leaders in terms of population of digital natives—individuals age 15-24 with five years' online experience—New Zealand, South Korea, Iceland, Malaysia or Zimbabwe? If you answered Zimbabwe, you're ... wrong! Zimbabwe may not be quite as high on the list as the others—the top four of the globe when it comes to network-enabled youth—but Zimbabwe's digital native population is arguably more interesting, coming within an authoritarian regime where economic growth is no given. Michael Best, Georgia Tech professor, who just completed a study for the U.N.'s ITU about the number of digital natives around the globe—363 million—explains why the "youth bulge" and Zimbabwe's youth in particular are important narratives for the 21st century.

Retailers: The future of big data is in ... a Turkish bazaar

Writing on Forbes sponsored content section, Reza Soudagar, senior director of database and technology marketing at SAP, says the first massive big data success in the retail industry has been around for a long, long time, and didn't originate in Silicon Valley, but in ... in the grand bazaar of Istanbul. "When I ventured into the shops where the famed Turkish rugs were sold, a startlingly different thought came to me: The Grand Bazaar, which was built shortly after the arrival of the Ottoman Empire, has been putting Big Data to work for decades!"

The SAP executive argues that the bazaar gathers insight about customers in order to sell their goods in a way that is a microcosm of how retailers are applying big data for the same purpose. If you've felt fleeced by some of the recent nebulous explanations for how to apply big data to generating business profits, look to the past, and the east.

By Eric Rosenbaum, CNBC.com

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