A Dutch social media professor warns of the repercussions Facebook and Twitter may encounter if they don’t reveal how they use the data collected about their users, Computerworld Australia reported.
“These companies are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to interfere in the social activities of our lives,” said Professor José van Dijck during her visit to the University of Technology Sydney. “They have become very savvy at predicting our habits.”
For merchants, these predictions and data collections offer golden opportunities to reach out to specific markets based on gender, age, interests and location – all information that social media users have freely supplied on their profiles. For some consumers, this customised marketing is quite convenient; for others, it’s seen as a breach of privacy and may end up hurting the social media outlets later, according to Dijck.
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“What may well happen is these mechanisms become too insidious in people’s lives [and] there may well be a backlash,” she said. “If people become really fed up with the way in which these companies intrude upon their privacy and their everyday activities, they may well experience a backlash from their customers.”
Facebook is one of the primary culprits of transparency with their ever-changing privacy policies, selling of information to third parties, and using data to boost their own business initiatives.
While these actions certainly harm social media’s appearance as a trustworthy outlet, in the end, it’s up to the user to decide how much personal information to divulge onto their profiles. Too often, Facebook and Twitter accounts are treated as public diaries where every thought is deemed worthy of publication, and more often than not, this gets users in trouble. Until you know exactly what’s going to happen with your personal data in the hands of these social media giants and ultimate transparency is achieved, heed on the side of caution and think before you type.