How our minds are harvested by social networks

Have you noticed how popular certain mundane and even stupid ‘surveys’ on social media have become? Like “What is your Chinese name?” or “Who is your gossip friend?”. These quizzes, personality tests, games, and friend comparisons appear harmless and even irresistible at first. Who doesn’t want to know what type of animal they were in the previous life? So we hand over our personal details to the social network or app for taking this stupid quiz. Unaware that we are making a big mistake.

Next, Most of these quizzes and games ask for more details like date of birth, favorite color, middle name, etc. such info which is used by many users as password and password resets. Play enough of these quizzes and companies can have enough information to hack your account by piecing together your password. This is why you should avoid playing such games etc on Facebook if you value your privacy. This is also one of the reasons why having a strong password is so important these days.

We become so obsessed with Facebook and its trappings, that we don’t realize how we are compromising our privacy and that of our friends, essentially becoming victims of psychographic profiling. We willingly give it all of our personal data, our friend’s info, email addresses and keep adding good content to it without any real benefit to ourselves.

This content further drives interactions and traffic on and for Facebook using our personal network. All these cascading interactions are harvested to churn out important data for companies to analyze. Finally, this is used for psychographic profiling and micro-targeting, to influence public opinion, and for hawking, everything from pen drives to presidential candidates.

Some people said that it’s not so bad if they are ‘targeted’ for seeing a relevant ad, so what?  Other people understood that everything on Facebook is Facebook’s property, so they have to be careful. But they also believed that the misuse of this data and intellectual property could land it in trouble one day. And that day is here.

This time Facebook is in deep trouble. At the center of a controversy for leaking its user’s data to a voter-profiling company, the world’s most popular social media website just got the biggest dislike ever.  It has lost $60 billion of its market value in just 2 days. The massive data harvesting scandal resulted in 50 million user’s personal data getting stolen by Cambridge Analytica for influencing election results in the US and other countries.

 

BRIAN ACTON TWEET ABOUT FACEBOOK

“It is time, #deletefacebook” says WhatsApp Co-founder, Brian Acton. He left Facebook in September 2017 and joined a foundation because he knew that Facebook is using dirty tricks for profit. Today after this data harvesting scandal is out in the open, the backlash is severe, you can find several media outlets publishing articles and guidelines to permanently delete your Facebook.  It’s not surprising that the #deletefacebook campaign is gathering momentum.

Meanwhile, here are people like us- bloggers, journalists, creative writers- who work tirelessly to add something meaningful to the internet in the hope that people read and benefit from it. But everyone is so obsessed with Facebook, blissfully unaware of the personality profiling and information warfare happening underneath.

But Facebook itself might be a victim here, so it’s not fair to blame only Facebook, there are many others doing the exact same thing. Anyone can make mistakes and if you think only Facebook collects and manages data then it can’t be further from the truth. Every little thing is connected to the internet today, and each of these things generates data. Many apps and websites are harvesting this data daily. How this data is stored and shared is not in our control yet.

The debate will end after Facebook, what about others?

There are many people today who are against the Facebook brand now. But they have been using Facebook for their business and personal benefits for many years. People change after getting benefits. And if you think about it, Facebook is on the radar right now so it’s possible that other social networks are making these anti-Facebook campaigns viral for their personal and business benefits.

But yes, data privacy and the right use of data is important. Facebook was unlucky it got caught first and hopefully, it will set a precedent for other social networks to respect user’s privacy. Governments in many countries are already working on a “right to be forgotten” law ( http://communication.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228613-e-189) to protect its netizens from data harvesting, theft, and misuse.

Here are some best ways and very helpful for students: 

How to use Facebook for Knowledge

Top 10 Most Productive Uses of Social Media in Our Daily Life

 

Declaimer: This article for educational purposes. We’re not anti-Facebook, the platform is awesome but we just worried about the data leakages.