Big Data is one of the hottest topic’s society discusses today. In fact, last year an estimated 14,000 people got married or recently engaged using an online dating app. There’s no question that big data is changing our world rapidly but the way we choose to handle it is our responsibility. Some favor convenience and choose to brush off the fact that their information is not safe. Others prefer to keep their identities hidden from companies that can potentially use or sell their information, recognizing that anything they post on the internet will stay there forever. Being vigilant about your social media privacy outweighs the convenience of an active social media life.
Using the internet and social media gives companies the power to manipulate you through targeted ads. According to the news article, Congress Examining Federal Oversight Following Facebook Data Breach, by Newsela Staff “Facebook has been reeling from its worst-ever privacy failure,” by letting data mining firm Cambridge Analytica, “scoop up,” information from 87 million Facebook users. They then used this information to target political ads at Facebook users convincing them to support and vote for Trump. Cambridge Analytica can tunnel through your Facebook information and peer into the world you thought was private. This got people livid and Zuckerberg faced Congress in April where, according to the article, Congress “grilled” Zuckerberg for the incident as he repeatedly apologized. This scandal is one example of how companies can manipulate you when you use their media.
What’s more, ads don’t only influence you into being involved in political issues. They also hit your wallet. NBC reporter Charles Darwin asked, “When was the last time you were shopping online? Did the ads follow you for days or even weeks?” The ads that turn up when you are shopping work in similar ways to when Cambridge Analytica directed ads at you. According to the article, This is How Facebook Uses Your Data for Ad Targeting if you like a picture of someone cooking on Facebook, ads will pop up trying to get you to buy a Cuisinart or a Wok. Same with shoes or headbands. Last year Facebook made a total of $40 million from targeted ads. As these examples show, when you surrender your privacy you let in a Trojan horse of political and commercial ads.
A second reason we should value privacy over convenience is that anything you post will stay in the public sphere forever and can ruin your reputation. Whether posts go viral or just your close group of friends see it, it will create a long-term status for yourself. An example of this appeared in an article of the Beijinger. A PhD. graduate in economics riding a train “refused to give up a seat” that belonged to another passenger. After the train crew repeatedly begged him to move, a train worker caught a video of him amid the mess. As a result, a couple days later this video went viral,” this will influence his life and career,” said the top commenter. And it will, he was a PhD graduate in economics and now he has been, as the article said,” exposed.” Situations like this happen every day and could affect you in negative ways. “We cast long digital shadows,” stated Alex Crotosci (A physiologist and Journalist). She set herself up with Max a Digital detective that works with celebrities and protects they’re, “digital information.” She gave him her name and challenged him to find out as much as he could about her. At the moment, she didn’t think anything personal or embarrassing was out there of her. She later learned that “there were a lot of embarrassing selfies and pictures of her,” this data could have ruined her career. Max proceeded on to reveal that he occupied information about her address and pictures of the inside of her house. This interaction led her to be more cautious about what she posted about herself on social media. We should all be careful about what we post or it could decide what life we can have. The internet’s companies lure us into using their recourses so that we can eventually expose ourselves.
Using social media and the internet surrenders your privacy and lets companies use your data as a commodity. Social media corporations are ever increasing the amount of data they market about you. It exposes you and puts you in danger while it provides companies with the buck. Still, social media and the internet are a huge contributor to our everyday lives whether it’s for homework or attaining information on public relations. A standard citizen wouldn’t be capable of having a job, cooking, or living a typical life without using social media. Companies and corporations like Google or Facebook provide you with recourses that are valuable and that you wouldn’t be able to live without. If you don’t agree, “you don’t have to use their recourses if you don’t want to,” stated the Verge. Still, if you use any form of technology you need to use the internet. The internet providers don’t only get to see everything you click, they also make you pay for it. Using the data, you create by using their recourses they are able to sell things that are just as valuable as their recourses. As said on the verge, “you’re basically paying them to eventually sell your information.” Corporations persuade you to join the circle of millions of people who have their identities so companies could obtain money.
Big Data will be a part of the human story for years to come. At a time when privacy and big data don’t work well together being aware of its effect on our confidential information is extremely important. I wouldn’t appreciate knowing that my “personal” data is being used as a tool to manipulate me, work as a reputation killer, and use my data as a commodity. Would you? We need to stand up to these companies, tell them they’re not allowed to use our data in ways we don’t approve of. Accomplishing this will let people post and interact on social media freely and escape the manipulation we are under now. As stated by Marlon Brando, “Privacy is not something I am merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite.”