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Privacy on Social Media - Your Personal Life Up for Grabs

Updated on April 10, 2018
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Dan Elle is currently Business Development Manager ShieldApps Software Innovations.

The Delusion of Privacy on Social Media Profile

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, there were no privacy issues and social media platforms and the whole concept of socializing has been based in coffee shops and restaurants. All the while, perusing the surroundings as to not to be seen. Today, in the world of digital technology we are more than willing to share any information from our personal life s– freely.

So, what exactly happened? The human nature of socializing, participating, competing. Whichever the reason the platforms will never be empty. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the social media participating. The platform allows instant chatting with distant friends and family.

Which in turn leaves a choice. Users can choose to be on the social media, or they can choose not to accept any of it. More or less drastic options are a consequence of the issue of intrusions, and privacy on social media.

The privacy on social media has to be the topic number one, with the pros and cons of having the profile in the first place. The most controversial subject is the problem if the privacy on social media truly exists.

Every social media user passed through the platform’s welcoming gates at some point. Opening a profile is rather easy and quick process. Especially if you stick to the truth and set everything easy to remember later. Leaving a basic personal data in order to access the platform, users continue to fill in their details so the school friends can find them.

As much as this digital reunion has its merits some of the data mentioned is left exposed. Although users consider that the profile is available only to them, the unspoken rule is that entire world and everyone on the planet can see it.

Using Facebook as Social Media Platform

Using Facebook by Mactrunk
Using Facebook by Mactrunk | Source

Privacy on social media and exposed personal life

The privacy on social media is much like a yard fence it actually hides nothing of your personal life. You are visible to everyone on the street. Such are the online tools for “people search”. One has only to insert a name or any other known information. The surprising truth is an entire report on a specified person is easily available, including social media profile.

There is a saying: “Internet never forgets”. As much as you would like to press that delete or cancel button there is no turning back. Whatever is on the profile and whatever you clicked through, is seen by someone.

And the undeniable fact is that cybercriminals and individuals have been cracking the passwords and selling the profiles for quite a while now. The black markets on the Dark Web sell tools that crack passwords. Facebook alone reported 600,000 profiles are attacked daily. Thief of the profiles and login credentials can crack a simple 7 character password in 9 seconds. It will take that much time to upload it to the market and sell them for a $1,5 per credential.

Truth be told, the criminals are not the only ones. The entire industry of data collecting in promotional, retail, or product placement purposes is on the user's trail. The more he or she spends online the more trackers are actively following.

Social Media and you

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The Social Media Tests and Experiments

Nonetheless, following the trackers is no easy task and it takes time. Pew Research Center, in Washington, has conducted several surveys. One of their investigations has produced results on Americans using social media platforms.

The fact behind the research shows that majority of Americans use social media networks. The survey showed that 73% are using YouTube and 68% Facebook platform. On the other hand, 35% uses Instagram, and 29% Pinterest. Behind them in lesser numbers are Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WhatsApp. In conclusion six out of ten surveyed individuals said they use platforms several times a day about their personal life.

Each of the social media networks is partnered with other third party companies. Tracker blockers are there to show which company follows the user on the certain website. For example, you visit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google without logging in. There will be 8 tracking companies. Each company presents a certain product, font, ad service, or something else.

Facebook, for instance, has acquired over 50 companies over time. Their data is shared with those companies and vice versa. Some of them include Atlas, Instagram, and WhatsApp. In addition Facebook also partners with third party advertisers.

Viewing the diagram of the third party blocking software seems like a poor single cell attacked by malicious bacteria. As funny as it sounds where there is one, there are many. The reason being user searched or looked at the similar item they are selling or presenting.

And the circle never ends, one company is related to another. They form a chain of data distribution. Which makes a single user very much exposed.

At some point, users have reported they purchased their own data for experimental purposes. In one of the cases, a user paid $50 to data broker in order to receive a list of his activities. The list shows the websites and information about the person since the first day he stepped into the digital world. Some of the information is vague and looks like a logical guessing, but other is the truth.

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How Social Media Affects Privacy and Identity

And so, to explain the information that flows freely, 90% of users are not even aware of the information they provide. Here is the list of everything we leave on social media platforms:

  • Name
  • Mobile
  • Email
  • Birthday
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Anything friends post about us
  • Mailing addresses
  • Hardware settings
  • Device Settings
  • Battery information
  • Signal strength
  • Location information
  • ISP Provider
  • Browser Type and Model
  • Language
  • Address book
  • Third party sites that use social media plugin
  • Partner companies to social media plugins
  • Credit Card Information
  • Debit Card Information.

“Any post or upload is a property of the platform”, many of the users disregard that fact. Which means any photo, text or anything else you provided is stored somewhere on the platform servers. If a user deletes it on their profile, it’s still there. And nonetheless, over 40% of all social media users find it very hard to stop using the platform each day.

How does it relate to privacy, personal life and identity?

Each item from the list is crucial in some way. Majority of this information is even left on users computers. The research showed that quarter of people save data in the Browser as well as the computer. This information is easily trackable by criminals and privacy intruders.

The information can be on a Web Browser without us even knowing about it. The websites practically force Browser to save the login credentials, even if we decide otherwise. The only way this information can be cleared is to use a privacy software. A single scan using privacy software such as Identity Theft Preventer can reveal data. The data is more often abused by criminals, Identity Thieves, data brokers, data miners, third-party companies, and hackers.

A single post can reveal much more. Although users consider this data private the entire World Wide Web can see it. Sharing a photo of your child is nothing wrong. But, if the picture contains a certain identifiable item such as school emblem, the parent has exposed the location and whereabouts of his child.

Recently scrolling through posts, I stumbled upon a girl who shared a credit card photo. If the numbers were unidentifiable the photo would have no impact. But reading the numbers clearly, she exposed her entire identity.

Privacy on social media is somewhat extinct. The frequent answer is: “I have nothing to hide”. That might as well be, but users don’t consider that the problem is not hiding but exposing too much. Living in the modern world and developing technologies the privacy is scarce. It makes a world truly a “global village”. Every part of the world is exposed to digital codes. And every post on the social media takes away another chunk of privacy.

© 2018 Dan Elle

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