IATE term of the week: Data Mining


You have probably heard this term as it has been largely used in the media during the past few weeks, mainly in relation to the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal. So, what exactly does it mean?

Data mining is an activity which involves information extraction with the goal of discovering hidden facts contained in databases and other large sets of data. This notion was used for the first time in 1983 by the economist Michael Lovell, in an article published in the academic journal Review of Economic Studies. Previously, it had been referred to as data fishing or data dredging. More than a decade later, in 1995, the First International Conference on Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery was held in Montreal, Canada. Nowadays, data mining is used in several domains including business, medicine, science and wherever digital data is involved.

Recently, headlines across the world made use of this notion as the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal unfolded. Cambridge Analytica, a British company that specializes in political consulting, was accused of mining private data from millions of Facebook users without their permission. The New York Times initially reported a number of 50 million affected users, but Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer, Mike Schroepfer, later released an estimated number of 87 million affected users.

This raised the question about the effectiveness of Facebook’s privacy measures. One of the biggest concerns was that the Cambridge Analytica leak could be one of many cases where confidential data was misused.

This week, on 10/04/2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of the Congress in the US answering questions from both Democratic and Republican senators. He reportedly admitted his mistakes and took responsibility for the actions of his company.

In response to this scandal, the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, invited  Mr. Zuckerberg to the Parliament. Mr. Tajani asked Mr. Zuckerberg to provide explanations in relation to the scandal as the protection of sensitive data of citizens is an important concern for the Parliament.

We invite you to consult our IATE database for more terminology:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Visit our page next Friday to keep up with the latest terms and news.




  • European Parliament (2018). Facebook: Parliament to look into alleged misuse of personal data. [online]  Available here [Accessed on 12.04.2018].
  • Data mining. Wikipedia. [online] Available here. [Accessed on 11.04.2018].
  • Confessore, Nicholas (2018). Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: The Scandal and the Fallout So Far. [online] Available here. [Accessed on 11.04.2018].
  • Roose, Kevin and Kang, Cecilia (2018). Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Facebook Before Skeptical Lawmakers. [online] Available here. [Accessed on 11.04.2018].


Written by Daniela Loghin — Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. Daniela has a degree in “Lingue, Culture, Letterature e Traduzione” at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. She speaks Romanian, Russian, English, Italian and French.