Are You Public or Private on Social Media?
An essay on digital privacy within advertising using customer data via data-mining.
In a world where apps and services like Snapchat and WhatsApp help people communicate with one another via text or media, the concern for privacy arises. Privacy has always been an interest of the general public and defines what services we like or dislike. Some state that advertising has struck privacy at its core due to the misuse of user data within companies like Facebook or Google. In most cases people misunderstand the reach of advertising with a company’s knowledge of privacy or the differences between the two. In my opinion, it is ethical and logical for companies like Facebook or Twitter to use customer data via data-mining to make the experience better for the customer.
Twitter to most people is a news and micro-blogging social network. It’s also a business that created something that few people think about: the hashtag “#”. Twitter started using the “Hashtag”(#) to use nouns or adjectives to help gather information for users or companies to compile into useful information. This is where data-mining comes into play. The term “data-mining” refers to the process of analyzing large databases to learn new information. In a sense, both data-mining and the hashtag coincide with each other. The hashtag started helping brands understand peoples’ likes/dislikes, demographic information and statistical information that were vital for the brands to grow. It also started helping the everyday layman to understand his or her standing in media. While the hashtag usually goes unnoticed, the concerns for privacy and advertising have risen in a way that startles many citizens.
While privacy concerns are the central thought of anyone on social media, the potential problems or cautionary concerns multiply. Instagram, a photo-sharing social network, released its latest New Terms of Service disclosure. Jenna Wortham, from The New York Times, stated that: “A section of the new terms of service, titled ‘Rights,’ notes that Instagram will also be able to use your photographs and identity in advertisements.” This means that Instagram has full consent to use your photos in any way they choose. Even though this sounds disconcerting, Instagram is not at fault because of their establishment as a private company. While Instagram opens up to new phases of advertising, Google has found new areas of focus for advertising within an app called Allo. As Nathan Olivarez-Giles from The New York Times states, “Google analyzes unencrypted chats to perform a service, such as suggest automatic replies or recommend restaurants and movies.” The app is initially like any other messenger client except it can learn from your chat history that enables its algorithms to determine smart replies or recommend various types of services. Google’s use on data-mining through this means of advertising is done so to help the company better understand the user and implement new features. Google states that they are giving the user more “transparency” with his or her data (Olivarez-Giles).
The main question is how companies are using user data that companies try to collect whether their intentions are to further the company or mishandle the data. As the internet gets surrounded by advertisements via companies and services, the future of privacy will always be at risk. In a world where citizens want the greatest and best technologies to choose from, the scope of advertising will be greatly challenged. It all boils down to what the customer desires, whether they want features or security—they always have a choice.