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“When you only have 10 events a night or a week, you don’t need predictive analytics,” he said. “You just need to take your hand and scroll down the screen.”
Teman’s app is based on a technology that automatically collects events from Facebook and displays them according to geographical divide, covering 10 cities in the United States.
“Users [of Grapevine] have to ask where is their information going,’’ Teman said, touting the greater privacy inherent in his approach.
Still, Grapevine’s approach mirrors much of today’s online interaction. Internet users on mobile or desktop devices are flooded with content, making recommendation engines like the Grapevine app a valuable time-saving tool, its backers say.
According to Litman, users need not fear that their personal information will go anywhere else: Grapevine’s files are kept in a very secure engine that no organization can tap into.
With data-based recommendation engines popping up everywhere online, the dilemma of whether or not to share personal information has become significant for every Web user.
“We encourage people to provide only whatever information is necessary,” said Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to protect the public interest in the digital sphere. “You don’t need to provide your full name or your phone number. That sort of info won’t necessarily help you use the service better; it only serves to help identify you if the data is sold to other third parties.”
As for those concerned about Grapevine, “We are not anybody’s stool pigeon,” Litman said. “We are not grabbing info and handing it to someone else. If Amazon does this to sell more books, why shouldn’t we do it for Jewish life?”
Contact Yermi Brenner at Brenner@forward.com