What You Still Don’t Know about the Usage of Your Social Media Data

These pop-ups do little more than remind us to cringe about the way our data is being used.

When consent is so strongly induced, it’s hardly consent at all.

The Dark Side of Face-Tagging Facebook’s face-tagging technology might seem innocuous (even if a little creepy), but it’s really a collection of biometric data on a person’s facial features.

While people can technically turn off this feature, many users are unaware that they can do so, since Facebook has only recently granted this privilege and keeps this capability relatively hidden within the other privacy settings.

Even more critically, Facebook’s facial recognition technology goes beyond simple face-tagging.

Facebook allows users to turn off face-tagging so that they won’t be explicitly identified in photos, but the company is vague about whether it continues to scan your face and store the data for its own purposes.

Privacy watchdogs worry that this collection of identifying data not only makes it hard for users to remain anonymous online, but that it also threatens civil liberties by jeopardizing their anonymity in public.

While Facebook has agreed to delete identifying information, it’s unclear whether the company will have the same privacy standards for American users as they do for European ones.

Political Data: The Blurry Line Between Customization and Manipulation Facebook is often criticized for its disproportionate role in politics–not just because of the notorious Cambridge Analytica scandal but, more broadly, because of its hyper-targeting of political materials to individual users.

In displaying heavily partisan ads, news articles, products, and more, Facebook’s use of consumer data not only appeals to, but also may influence and help solidify, a person’s political ideology.

Congressional scrutiny of Zuckerberg has made the company more cautious about displaying propaganda and fake news.

But Facebook continues to push its limits by collecting political data and displaying targeted materials–keeping the distinction between bad journalism and fake news ambiguous.

Medical and Highly Personal Ad-Targeting Data collection reaches beyond both the biometric and the political.

Inappropriate data collection and ad-targeting could easily expose other personal information such as mental or physical health issues, pregnancy concerns, sexual orientation, and more.

In 2016, Facebook came under fire for ‘spying’ on the online searches of cancer patients.

Several patients found that Facebook sent them targeted ads based on their browsing the web for potential treatment solutions.

When cancer patient Winston Smith brought these concerns to court, the court decided that such ad-targeting was okay because he had consented to Facebook’s privacy policy.

On this view, medical data collection is essentially the same as data collection based on any other consumer interest.

The court case set a dangerous precedent: that it’s perfectly fine to gather data about a consumer’s medical or other deeply personal needs, and then target or even expose them based on this data.

A person’s online medical research, in other words, is not protected; it’s just as vulnerable to collection and targeting as any other web browsing data.

Conclusion Though nearly all of us use some form of social media, few are aware of the full extent to which our data is collected and used.

Our online data can take the form of political information, medical and biometric details, and other highly personal information, gathered not only from Facebook itself but also from our activity across the web.

While the solution to the privacy problem ultimately needs to come from the policy end, users should nonetheless take precautions to protect their data.

About the Author Shachar Shamir is COO of Ranky, a marketing company based in Tel Aviv.

As Ranky’s COO, Shachar helps startups around the world with their marketing and online growth needs.

So far, he has helped more than 200 startups with hands-on solutions.

Other than that, he offers startups consulting and mentoring solutions, on how to increment their presence online and gain more clients.

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