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Your Digital Profile is Everything Giant Social Media Companies Need From You

Jun 07, 2021 4 min read

Data security and personal data are today’s biggest topics. Find out how your digital profile and information is distributed and what you can do to protect your digital assets.

 

With an increasing reliance on social media, it is surprising that many people are unaware of how much data they are giving away in exchange for free app access.

Fortunately, in 2020 Jeff Orlowski directed and released the documentary "The Social Dilemma" which visually shows people how their data is distributed. It's been over a year, and there's still a buzz about this film, as well as discussions about how companies are selling our data and invading our privacy.

If you Google "Social Dilemma What to Do," you'll get over 85million results with advice on how to stop social media from controlling our lives. In 2016 this number was only at 16 million! This means that people are becoming more conscious of their digital profiles. 

When we talk about the digital self, we speak of information about the person, including personal preferences, browsing data, personal information (age, name, gender, location, hobbies), friends.

These things are needed for the optimized user experience on social media, which is one of the positive aspects. However, in this article, we will discuss how privacy invasion and data security issues outweigh the benefits of using networking platforms.

Digital profile and personal data 

In our daily use of digital, networked media, we generate huge volumes of data. "In 2020 every person created at least 1.7MB of data per second!" This information is then harvested and used to tailor algorithms and advertisements to your digital profile.

If you’d like to find out how much data companies have on you, you can download it. Nicole Martin did it with Google, and she ended up downloading 2GB of personal data. Interestingly, Instagram doesn't provide a number of gigabytes of the data they collect on you.

Instead, Instagram allows you to find this information independently, even if this journey isn't optimized. You can easily find data that they store about you, such as polls you participated in, your interests, which attract specific ads or even emojis that you clicked on.

Collected data gives businesses new ways to structure and price consumer offerings. Even when the pandemic hit, there has been an increase of 12.2% in online advertising spending worldwide. When executing digital marketing campaigns, most respondents who participated in this poll thought that keeping relevant to viewers' needs and interests is crucial. 

How does ad revenue influence our digital selves?

Data is being used in such a way that people manifest adverts based on their digital profiles. "Social Dilemma" effectively depicts the concept of how a person's every action manifests an AI recommendation that one should follow.

So it’s not so much about your ad spend as it is about how close and personal you can get to the buyer.

Despite the money spent on advertisements, last year, it was nearly banned due to the perceived breach of privacy. It raised questions about the practice of targeting ads because of invasive characteristics.

Ads that seem to invade your privacy are called "stalker ads". These ads get your gender right by offering you to buy e.g. a masculine watch, or your location right by suggesting you see a concert that will be held in your city. 

Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson proposed that if Social Media giants couldn’t use our data to target ads, there’d be no reason for people to buy it in the first place and no reason for them to mess with data later. From that came a simple solution: "Ban the right of companies to use personal data for advertising targeting".

What is happening to your data?

When it comes to collecting people's data, Facebook is well-known for having a voracious appetite for it. On February 8th, WhatsApp users were required to accept the terms of a new privacy policy in which they agreed that their personal information, including phone number, would be shared with Facebook, which owns WhatsApp.

Ironically, it appears that they are overwhelmed by the amount of information they’ve gathered as "more than 540 million records about Facebook users were publicly exposed on Amazon's cloud computing service". 

The more information you provide about yourself, the more dangerous it becomes. What you could possibly do is: 

Data is the most important asset that we must safeguard. Because of phishing attemptsdata mining, and malware sharing, you should be aware of your digital footprint and use social media with caution.

Conclusion

To have complete security and privacy, you’d need to close your laptop and turn off all mobile devices. As we all know, that is not going to happen; however, what we can all do individually is to protect our own personal information and implement certain safety measures.

Pew study says that 52% of Americans decided not to use a product or service because of concerns over their data protection. And as more consumers are getting aware of their data, companies are improving their products to protect it.
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Whatagraph team
Jun 11, 2021 7 min read