In 2020, many internet users were savvier than ever about what they shared or didn’t share, but modern life almost requires engaging with social media in some way. How is personal data given to these sites, and how can that be utilized against users? To find the answer, Stacker compiled a list of 15 ways data is revealed to social media companies. This includes information from sites like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Norton, as well as news reports from Buzzfeed and more. What these insights show is that everything done online—from what is clicked on to how long a page is looked at—is valuable to people who are selling that data.
Protecting privacy online is an ongoing challenge, and the goal posts are constantly moving as marketers grow more and more proficient in avoiding the obvious things consumers are aware of when visiting sites. That includes going past explicit location data, for example, and gathering up location footprints by using the things around users instead. It also includes setting up bots that scrub publicly available information to build profiles of users as potential customers. Any free service or app used is turned into a profile that can be sold to someone, whether directly or through customized advertising.
Read on for some of the most common ways that social networking companies gather and sell users’ data to the highest bidder. The only way to completely opt out of this system is to stop using almost everything that relies on the internet, which some people can manage to do. But for the rest of us, simply being aware of how our data is being bought and sold can show us ways to keep that data to ourselves as much as possible. Forewarned is forearmed.
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