Data Slavery: You’re Actually Selling Your Information For Free

“I have read the terms and conditions…” But did you? No, because if you did, it can actually take up to 72 work days each year, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers. So we don’t bother because why would we?  

Here’s why we should:

  1. When we are online we do a lot of clicking. And that clicking is valuable to companies. Because every click generates data. We like, we comment, we share, we click on different profiles, we click on ‘follow’ and that clicking doesn’t stop for as long as you’re online. And all of this data is being harvested by platforms.
  2. And when you’re not clicking, you’re giving our your personal data. This isn’t just about your bio on Twitter or if you’re single on Facebook, but it’s actually your face, voice, location and private conversations.
  • Snapchat implemented 3D modelling facial recognition software on its filters (formally named ‘lenses’). So when you use those filters, your face print can be sold to third parties.
  • Facebook added its reactions feature (love, sad, angry, haha, wow) to know more about your reactions toward a post. Because a ‘like’ can be a bit vague for advertisers to know exactly how you feel about something.
  • Voice recognition is also another tactic that companies use to access people’s mics from their devices and actually detect keywords to know more about consumers through their conversations.
  • Instagram allows you to add your location to your photo or story so that you can enable your location services and let advertisers know where you’ve been.

Creeped out yet? Take a look at Mark Zuckerberg’s laptop — with stickers covering his webcam and mic. Zuck knows something we don’t.

Mark Zuckerberg spotted at his desk at Facebook.

3. Many websites also track our Internet cookies. Ever visited a website that had pop-ups block your screen saying they use cookies? Well, by clicking ‘I accept’, you are giving it access to your browsing history.

4. What happens to your data: your social engagement online (likes, comments, shares, Facebook reactions, etc.) is being studied in a sentiment analysis by companies & advertisers. This analysis helps advertisers determine your personality, background and most importantly, which ads are suitable for you.

5. After this sentiment analysis, a predictive analysis is carried out. Based on the profile that companies have designed for you, they start to make predictions about your next purchases so that they can advertise to you.

6. This information is then profiled and collected by data brokers (also known as information brokers), who are companies that collect massive data sets from Internet companies like Google, Apple and Facebook and then sell that data to third party organisations for tailored advertisements. The personal data is not sold randomly, but actually, individual profiles are created for each user including a long list of personal data — from names, numbers and addresses to the places you’ve been to and the people you’ve spoken to. US data broker company Axciom is reported to have files on 10% of the world’s population — with approximately 1500 bits of information per consumer.

7. Next thing you know your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds ‘coincidentally’ have ads pop up on the side that know you a little too well.

But is this legal? Is it even ethical?

Yes, because you have read and understood the Terms and Conditions.

D

 

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