Do Social Networks Respect Your Privacy?
It depends how you define “privacy.” After all, you trust social networking sites with your information. They might know you better than you know yourself.
The internet is not a place for privacy, and it never was. Many social networking sites and apps take the opportunity to collect information on you when you sign up for their service. This can include more than your name, phone number, and date of birth. However, most users aren’t aware of exactly how much information these sites are collecting, nor what they are using this information for. Often, these companies are using your information for marketing purposes. Online marketing, especially through social networking websites like Facebook, is quickly becoming the most effective way to reach out to current or potential customers.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming the one-stop-shop for everything you would normally do on a variety of different websites. This includes activities like reading the news and the latest gossip, watching videos, and communicating with your favorite companies. Facebook, for example, also wants to further take advantage of bot use, so that you can have a bot order an Uber, choose a restaurant, or book a flight for you. If you start to use Facebook for all of your online tasks, then you’re providing them with a lot of information about you. You trust them with not only your personal information, but also your photos, where you eat, where you travel, who your friends are and what they like, which brands you like best, and your social and political views. That’s a lot of information they can use for marketing purposes. If you don’t get your information elsewhere, that means that Facebook controls what you read and what you watch, even if it’s not necessarily information you want to see.
Or, take Instagram for example (which is owned by Facebook). Their new “channels” feature shows you videos based on your interests. Whenever you like a photo or video, or follow certain people or brands, the app develops an idea of who you are. This then helps Instagram to send you targeted ads from brands that are looking for customers like you. While you might welcome Instagram doing all of the work for you in terms of providing you with new brands to discover, these types of ads often become overwhelming and intrusive.
Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can say that, by agreeing to use their service, you’re essentially allowing them to access and use your information. It’s considered “harmless” behavior if they’re using that information to improve your experience with their service. But there’s still the question about how much social networking sites should be allowed to access from us, and whether or not their privacy policies are intentionally misleading to the average user to create a false sense of “privacy.”