Social media – a bad friend who can’t keep secrets
Can you think of a day you didn’t check Facebook, Gmail, Twitter or other social media? The answer to the question is probably no, unless you’re experiencing a generation gap with your peers. However, that’s rarely the case. After all, the digitalisation of the world is a fact and it has changed our lives radically. Although it has brought us many opportunities to share information about the world and ourselves, there are some negative aspects that can invade our privacy drastically. If you want to find out more about the downside of our social advancements, be sure to read on!
We all have that one friend who is addicted to all sorts of social media. He or she tweets, posts, vlogs and likes all day long. Unfortunately, the information that is shared is used by social media for other purposes. By liking and posting comments, a dataset is generated, ready to be sold to third parties, resulting in personalised advertisements.
When you read this example above you might think it’s the user’s own fault, and therefore see no problem. However, also the data from users who don’t share posts to the public are collected. After giving consent for usage of your information (of which the conditions are not clearly described), the data you sent in public and private settings are collected. Not only your tweets and post are collected but also the private conversations in chats. This can also happen on sites like patientslikeme.com where strictly private information is discussed in a closed setting.
That’s not all. Many social media such as Twitter and Facebook use widgets with cookies to track you down on other websites. When the cookies are the same they can follow your activity in other browsers even if you delete your history. Of all social media, Google might be the most suspicions. They gather information even when you’re not signed in on Gmail, send it to other media, favour certain companies by showing only their adds and block account usage if you don’t give consent to sudden changes in the usage of your identity. This results in criticism from the US, EU and Russia with a goal to pressure Google to change its policy.
Of course there are some benefits when other companies have information about you. They can offer you products and events you like, which you would not have discovered on your own. Still, we have to take into consideration that a lot of social media users do not know what they sign up for. Most of the people don’t realise that the usage of social media means they give up their privacy. To avoid laying bare such confidential information it is advisable to only share things you don’t mind being shared in public and read the policy of social media before giving your consent. Also, the citizen should be protected more by authorities, especially vulnerable groups like children and the mentally ill. This is possible by specifying, changing or developing new laws so that social media is obliged to communicate consequences after giving consent in a comprehensible way. Also there could be more emphasis on internet privacy cases in law studies. After all, times have changed, so why shouldn’t the approaches on social media?