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The red flag about social media and your personal information

Sep 17, 2019 | Featured

Daniel Bartchouk for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

Have you posted a photo to Instagram lately? Told the world how you feel about something? Shared something on Twitter or Facebook? How long have you been doing this, and what does all this information say about you?

The recent Netflix documentary ‘The Great Hack’ has sparked a discussion about personal data and its privacy. The film covers the private commodification of data of millions of users, specifically by the company ‘Cambridge Analytica’ in its collaboration with social media platforms like Facebook and political campaigns.

The film invokes a series of disturbing questions—what is the extent to which social media is manipulating users personal data, whether exploited publicly as in the film or still unknown. If this has been done before, when will it happen again? With who? How do people protect themselves? For the technologically illiterate, how to navigate these platforms with caution and awareness?

Devices like Amazon’s Alexa, or the Google Home, and the very cell phone in your pocket allow for the audible intake of information. Stores, buildings, and some home security systems now have a visual and audible view on the daily occurrences of people’s private lives.

A point brought up in the doc was that Cambridge Analytica used personal psychology in conjunction with users personal data to determine basic patterns of human behaviour and personality traits, and hence, determine what their political beliefs (which are typically published or expressed by the user anyway), their interests, hobbies, and shopping habits might be.

This data would be used to adjust the modes of advertising accordingly, which would guarantee a more targeted and reactive audience for the product. As a result, the products were being aimed directly at their most probable consumers, but this is only the beginning.

Despite guarantees of privacy, security, indemnity, there have been incidents of people mentioning a certain shoe, or brand, and the advertisements then magically appearing in their browser’s sidebars.

I won’t make any absolute claims that these technologies have disrupted the sphere of privacy for the general public, as I’m sure their endless Terms, Contracts and Agreements state is the case—I’m only saying that these technologies, which are designed to absorb information in the form of voice commands—have the ability to do much, much more.

They could have an unexpected positive effect, as many have already improved the efficiency of household tasks and security. But at what cost?

We are not sure how corruptible these technologies are—we are forced to rely on the word of the companies and legal guarantees that there is no chance a hacker can infiltrate the data with the same—or more advanced—skills and programs that are used to protect it.

It depends on how much this information is worth, and if the Cambridge Analytica scandal is any indication—it’s worth millions.

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