Whenever I get to know a friend’s social media profile is compromised, or see a constant reminder by facebook to add my number to enhance my account’s security. I instantly feel concerned about my personal data and how to protect it from any form of a breach?
A Lot has been discussed about privacy risks associated with social media usage. Regardless of all the speculations, users feel undeterred due to their strong addictions attached to these outlets. Also, they have become such an integral part of social lives and serve as ‘alter ego’ for many. It’s impossible to imagine a future without them.
As for privacy matters, no matter how concerned a user might feel, somebody else might know more about them than they know themselves. But nothing can be done to ensure complete privacy. Even though measures can be taken to decrease risks and fears.
The day we make an account!
You surrender your personal details the very day you enter the realm of a social media site. By clicking I agree, you are handing over your name, date of birth, email id or a phone number and maybe a picture. The next questions are: what are your religious and political views? Whether you prefer men or women? Where do you live or study? And so on.
Not only that they have inevitable access to your location. Basically, you are under the radar of social media sites. They communicate, build business models and make analysis using that very data that we provide. No social media site can survive without data and users can’t survive without social media. It’s a mutual feeling!
Not restricted to that, our privacy isn’t secured even from our friends. They keep tagging us, sharing locations of mutual gatherings, hand over their contacts list multiple times to various sites. So even if we aren’t registered with some particularly social media outlet, it doesn’t imply they don’t have your personal information.
First of all, we need to understand how big data processing works when it comes to social media sites.
Neural networks: Helping hands in the data processing
Neural networks are programmed to learn things after being trained with stored information. It consists of input and output units. Input units receive information and try to learn about it. It develops identification of certain form of information and how to process it. Then comes output units, whose task is to respond against the information collected by input units.
Both are connected with hidden units. Basically, a neural program is designed after the working of a human brain. Even though both can’t be compared. As one gets trained with numbers and algorithms whereas the other learn from life experiences and then use its imagination to process them further.
Neuron networks work and improve with feedback. Just like when a human is told that they need improvement and fix their flaws. Neural networks are also fed with where they lack or needs improvement.
This process is known as ‘back propagation’. It is meant to inform the system about the difference between tasks it performed and what it was supposed to perform. So that it rectifies the issue next time. This way it can be trained to process data in a more sophisticated manner.
AI-based software and social media marketing
Ever noticed you visited certain brand stores and next time you accessed your social account, it’s ad is popping up. Do you wonder how that happened? Obviously through tracking your location. But in what other ways, Artificial intelligence is helping in the data processing.
Still, there are many ways in which you can save your privacy. Many companies are using monitoring software to prevent breach in official and confidential data. Many individuals refrain from downloading applications that they think might jeopardize their personal information.
How media giants are generating content?
Obviously, by guessing after your engagement with content at social media sites. AI gathers and delivers data to large media conglomerates. Who, then uses this information for their own content generation.
They know your preferences, likes and dislikes through social media and develop content that can gather maximum viewership based on the popularity factor. Similarly, data is collected to know consumer preferences. It can be identified from either behavior or repetitive buying patterns with the help of AI.
Now it’s obvious that your life and behavior patterns are being monitored with the help of technology. Let’s examine the risks involved with that much personal data being disclosed.
Your smartphones are the real stalkers
Most of the time you aren’t accessing social media through desktop but a smartphone. Smartphones with their inbuilt location trackers which you more often have to turn on for various reasons. Whether you need google maps or want to book a ride. Your location is continuously being tracked by your social media apps. It can be used by stalkers or even burglars. Therefore posing a security risk. Strict laws are needed to restrict their automated flow and misuse.
Harassment doesn’t need to be in physical space
Free flow of information on social media has paved the way for online stalking and harassment. Any pervert can stalk profiles, steal pictures and try to harass females in particular. Even though cybercrime departments are there for the rescue.
Many feel hesitant and confused in taking help from security agencies. Awareness has to be developed regarding data protection laws and measures that can be taken to deter stalkers.
Identity theft: A new phenomena
It’s not only money or valuables that can be stolen nowadays. It’s becoming increasingly common for social media identities to be stolen. You can be impersonated for a variety of reasons. Often it’s a tool for evil purposes like spreading viruses or malware.
But it can also be personal. Some people need fake identities to ensnare others. Or in some cases, it’s being done as an act of revenge. Either way, a person’s reputation is at stake no matter which intention was at the background of this vicious activity.
Changing passwords and not using a single one across all the devices can save you from misery. Also never access your personal accounts from any public device or if you had to, remember to remove your login information. Not to mention, don’t forget to log out in the first place. Always use two-factor authentication and never click links received from friends. Their accounts might be hacked and you were set for a trap.
We discussed several pitfalls of data processing in regards to privacy. But it needs collective and state-level effort. States need to draft legislation on the lines of GDPR to give individuals control over their private lives.
EU hasn’t passed any lenient laws in this regard. It can cost 4% of global turnover for the company that breached an employee’s privacy for instance. Social media sites are mishandling information across the nations.
For instance, taking data from EU nationals and submitting it to the NSA in the US. It’s a sheer breach of privacy. Just like an effort is being done for environmental protection or to stop nuclear proliferation. Personal space is sacred, and there should be robust action to protect that.