Should You Share Your Personal Data with Companies?
By: Josie Neel
When you sign up for a rewards card at a supermarket, the company that owns the supermarket collects your personal data. In return, you receive discounts on their goods. But, did you ever stop to think: “Should I give away my personal data just to get a cheaper price on a bag of chips?” Do you feel comfortable knowing a company has your email address, phone number, age, and your home address? I am going to explain three reasons why you should be careful about sharing your personal data with companies. First, companies will use it for ad targeting; second, once a company has your data, you may not be able to control it any longer; and third, companies may fail to protect your data.
The first reason you should not share your data with companies is they will use it for ad targeting. Ad targeting is when companies collect information about what you like to buy and then use that information to send you targeted ad campaigns to try to sell what they think you want. Often, the original company that collected your information will then sell it to another companies to target you with their advertisements. Facebook and Google, for example, have recently been criticized for doing this. According to the article “This is How Facebook Uses Your Data for Ad Targeting” by Kurt Wagner, “A third-party data firm…got its hands-on personal data for as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission. The company reported advertising revenue of $40 billion last year, and it’s only going to keep growing.” Many Facebook users became angry when they discovered the company was collecting their data without permission to make money. Next time you share your personal data with an online company, ask yourself: “Do I want my computer flooded with ads that I don’t really want to see?” If the answer is no, then don’t share it.
The second reason that you should not share your personal data with companies is because once your give up your personal data, you may not be able to control it anymore. Once your personal data is shared online, it may be too late to control it again. For example, according to the documentary film “The Power of Privacy,” by Aleks Krotoski, the actress and singer Barbara Streisand had some personal pictures appear online. She tried to sue the photographer who took the picture to get him to take them down. But, she failed. This shows that once your personal data is on the internet you might not have as much control over it as you would like. So, before you share your personal data with a company, ask yourself: “Do I want this information to be put online?” If not, don’t do it.
Finally, according to the article “Zuckerberg Apologizes for Failing to Protect Facebook Users’ Privacy” by Newsela staff, “Facebook has faced harsh criticism ever since it was revealed that the personal information of more than 87 million Facebook users ended up in the hands of another company.” This shows that even a company as big as Facebook was unable to keep its users’ personal data safe. There is other evidence to show that companies are failing to protect your data. According to “ISPs Can Now Sell Your Data” By Nilay Patel internet service providers (or ISPs) “want to sell your data without your permission.” This means that companies are not as trustworthy as you might think. In addition, your data is not being protected on the internet, which means it can be tracked, hacked, and used against you. Do you want to keep your data safe from hackers that could use your data against you? If so, you should not share it with companies.
The way that companies turn customers’ personal data into big data can be convenient. For example, when you shop at the supermarket you may receive coupons that are custom-tailored to your shopping preferences. But this must be weighed against the value of our privacy. According to a survey titled “Will we give up our privacy without a fight?” by CNN’s Heather Kelly, “We are already living under constant surveillance, willingly offering up chunks of personal information online, where it is collected, tracked and used to make money.” Even if you give a company your personal data willingly, do you agree that they can use it in whatever way they want? If not, you should think first before you sign away your privacy.
Before you agree to share your data with a company, remember this: companies use it for ad targeting; they cannot protect it; and once we’ve given up our privacy, we lose control of it. These are all reasons not to share your data with companies.
Wagner, Kurt. “This Is How Facebook Uses Your Data for Ad Targeting.” Recode, Recode, 11 Apr. 2018, www.recode.net/2018/4/11/17177842/facebook-advertising-ads-explained-mark-zuckerberg.
“Newsela | Zuckerberg Apologizes for Failing to Protect Facebook Users’ Privacy.” Newsela | No Legs, No Problem for Alabama Teenage Wrestler Who Went 37-0, https://newsela.com/read/facebook-zuckerberg-congress/id/42339/
TheVerge. “ISPs Can Now Sell Your Data without Permission.” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Apr. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5KgDka0FYA.
TheGuardian. “The Power of Privacy – Documentary Film.” YouTube, YouTube, 28 Jan. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGX-c5BJNFk.
Kelly, Heather. “Pew Survey: Privacy vs. Online Convenience.” CNN, Cable News Network, 18 Dec. 2014, https://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/18/tech/innovation/pew-future-of-privacy/index.html