Collecting Data from the Web – Is it legal?

Over the past few weeks we’ve noticed a lot of chatter about the legality of scrubbing the web for data. This issue has been shrouded in too much ambiguity and confusion, so we thought it was about time to clear everything up – at least when it comes to how our team works.

What is web scraping?

Web scraping is the process of gathering data from websites, usually via a program that emulates the human behavior of finding information on the web. It’s useful because it helps translate a lot of unstructured data that’s available on the web into useful information that can be stored and/or analyzed.

Here’s why we’re all a little confused

We exist in the age of social media and, as a result, more and more people are choosing to make information about themselves available on social media platforms. These platforms – e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook etc. – typically require you to register and log in before accessing the data they contain. Their data is restricted, and logging in to export data from these platforms is usually a violation of their terms of service.

So far so simple.

The confusion tends to arise when you consider that, in some cases, certain social media profiles are in fact available via search engines – whether you’re logged into the platform in question or not. This is when people become – understandably – concerned that the data, despite its visibility, is also restricted.

Here’s how we can clear things up

When we first began developing our profile service, we knew the public web represented a vast resource of data that could prove invaluable to our customers. We also knew to effectively use that resource we had to fully understand all the issues involved in gathering the data. So we put together a team to conduct extensive research into all the nitty gritty details so we could become fully educated on the issues at hand.

And, here’s why you don’t have to worry

The services we provide have been developed considering every detail that our team discovered. We’ve worked very hard to ensure our methods are 100% legitimate by focusing entirely on the “public web.”

So what does that mean exactly? When we say we pull information from the “public web” we mean the part of the web which is indexed and made available via search engines – the data that is readily available without registering for or logging into any websites. In the specific case of our profile service, we are referring to the data individual users of social media platforms have actively chosen to make public.

This choice makes the entire issue wholly transparent. When a user chooses to make their profile public, they are deciding not to restrict their data to the platform they are using, choosing instead to share it with the wider web via search engines.

Once the data is made public in this way, we have the right to gather it without ever approaching any legal “gray areas” – thus ensuring you can use our services without any concerns at all.

 

Why your University NEEDS up-to-date employment data on Alumni

A university’s alumni is one of its biggest assets. An alumni pool brings with it word-of-mouth references, potential donations, and potential connections to some of the most powerful people in the world. Occasionally your alumni may even be a part of that elite group of powerful and influential people.

However, what about the rest? The alumni who are incredibly successful but less public. Do you have a strategy for keeping them engaged? Do you know why you should?

Here’s why your relationships with your alumni matter.

When was the last time a former acquaintance you haven’t heard from in years reached out to you and asked how you were and then, after some token small talk, asked you for some money or a huge favor? Were you inclined to grant them their wish? I’m guessing not.

The same goes for your alumni. When a school neglects its alumni and reaches for donations, seemingly out of the blue, chances are that the school will either get a negative response or none at all! So maintaining links with alumni is crucial before asking anything of them.

Okay, you accept that alumni relationships matter—what does employment data have to do with it?

How do you keep track of the ever-changing groups of students who pass through your institution? How do you reach out to the ones who have slipped through over the years?

The most efficient answer is employment data. By gathering information on their current and past employment roles, Universities can not only receive insight into what their alumni are doing, they can get a sense of what really matters to their alumni now. By finding out their interests and the companies they’ve been working for, you can focus your strategies for reconnecting with alumni by concentrating on each person’s unique profile and interests.

The result? A new pool of prospective donors who are going to be far more inclined to donate to their alma mater.

Right, you’re on board—employment data is the answer! But how is that going to help you contact them?

To many, the most obvious solution seems to be an email address or phone number—and if you can gather that information along with employment data, you might think you’ve struck gold. Well, we think there’s an even better option.

Many alums—particularly the successful ones—are constantly being approached over email or phone by any number of people. They might not notice your attempts to get in touch or—at worst—they might see such direct solicitation as too invasive.

Connecting to them via profiles on public websites (e.g., LinkedIn), however, represents a far more welcome and comfortable form of communication. They won’t delete the email because they think it’s spam or ignore a call because they think it’s a cold call. Social media is “social” by its nature, and because of this, approaches through social media tend to be much more likely to gain a positive response.

Great, you got it. So now you have to gather employment data AND social media info? How?

In short, you ask for help. Many services out there can help you collect the employment data you need. Some—such as Prospect Visual’s service—even include URLs for free as part of any employment append package and offer special prices to educational institutions.

So if you’re ready to build those alumni profiles, what are you waiting for? Use the form below to get a sample file of your own alumni or get in touch with us to find out more!

DOWNLOAD A FREE SAMPLE FILE OF YOUR OWN ALUMNI

If you’d like to make an inquiry about our Append / Alumni Profiling service or would like to download a free sample file of your own alumni please use the form below to make your request.

Entrepreneurs & Philanthropy: Mark Zuckerberg

It’s been over a decade since the launch of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg is a household name. And rightly so – his idea, his product has made a profound impact on modern lives.

Apart from this, Zuckerberg is also becoming known as an avid philanthropist – making generous gifts in the last few years to the Newark Public Schools and Silcon Valley Community Foundation among others. And less than two weeks ago it was also reported that Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were to donate $120 million to the San Francisco Bay Area’s public school system.

This philanthropic activity has made him a prized prospect for many organizations.

But how can an organization decide whether Zuckerberg is within their reach? Capacity? Everyone knows he has that. Inclination? His acitivities in the last few years have demonstrate a desire to take on a philanthropic role.

So the only question left is to ask whether such a prominent individual is reachable.

A quick glance at the image from Prospect Visual shows a selection of some of the more well-known people within Zuckerberg’s Sphere of Influence and who in turn have the potential to influence him when it comes to making donations.

zuckerberg

Do you see a path to him? If not, perhaps it’s time to compile information on his entire network and find out whether he’s within your reach!