data use: BBC Box

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BBC Box is a prototype which pulls together data about what users watch or listen to and gives them control over who has access to this data.

download PDF of BBC Box visualisation

Watch the BBC Box animation:

Proposed benefit of BBC Box:

  • people control their own data & who has access to it;
  • people receive personalised recommendations.

Potential harm of BBC Box: 

  • data may not be secure if all in one place;
  • individuals may not have the time & expertise to manage their own data;
  • recommendations systems can recommend a narrow range of things, and people using them are not exposed to a range of issues of perspectives. Some people say this is not good for democracy.

Questions to discuss or think about

  • What do you think about BBC Box?
  • Does anything surprise you about how data is being used here?
  • How do you feel about the role that algorithms play in BBC Box?
  • How do you feel about who has control over how data is used in BBC Box?
  • How do you feel about how data is shared in BBC Box?
  • Look at the proposed benefits and potential harms of BBC Box. What matters more to you: the proposed benefit or concern?
  • Do you think BBC Box is fair? Why/why not?
  • How much do you feel like you understand BBC Box?

What people think about BBC Box

Some participants were concerned that recommendations based on people’s media consumption pushes people into echo chambers and limits healthy debate:

“[audiences] are not going to get like the other side because this’ll just constantly pump and drip feed them more […]. That’s where my brain goes when it comes to these kind of algorithms about biases behind them.”

Tahira, Pakistani, heterosexual woman, aged 45-54

Other participants speculated that the BBC Box might result in less control over personal data, not greater control as promised ‘on paper’:

“To keep all these accounts I have, and data, fragmented data, to integrate them, what will happen if I share this profile with other accounts? In the worst imagination, it’s like feeding a monster that is always hungry, and we feed it with data, with data, with data, which is how we ended up creating monsters like Google, or Facebook.”

Castor, Greek man, aged 35-44

Find out more

To find out more about what our participants said about BBC Box, read our public service media sector report or visit our archive of anonymised research data.