In the backdrop of the Facebook data leak scandal in the United States during Trump’s election, Mahima tells us how she has been securing her data since a long time now, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
Are you one of those who was simply browsing a product or brand on Google or Amazon and was suddenly taken by a surprise when Facebook and Instagram showed you exactly the same advertisement?
It has happened to me as well and not just once, but several times. So people who notice this seriously came out with a conclusion that social media sites are actively spying on us! The reality is actually far scarier. Big tech firms are actually being hired to track our online behaviour and then this data is used to aim at us potential consumers. Even a single ‘like’ on FB or Instagram reveals a lot about our preferences and when the service is free, the product is us, as is the buzz word now.
However, the problem isn’t just about tracking and manipulating our shopping preferences. A lesson from the data leak news around the 2016 US elections, teaches us that even our critical choices like who we vote for, are being subjected to manipulation. And this is the biggest danger to a democratic society. And with 2019 elections staring at us, Facebook and other social media sites will now be used to threaten our nation too.
You don’t believe me? Then, let me remind you about the data firm Cambridge Analytica was used by the Trump campaign in the US. Cambridge Analytica managed to gain access to the data of over 50 million Facebook profiles. And that too a simple personality test – the ones we usually take over FB. What’s even scarier is the fact that Cambridge Analytica has gone on record saying it has worked not just in the US but also with political parties in India. So, with Lok Sabha elections staring at us in 2019, even our country’s democracy is at a greater threat!
So how does this data spying happen? Have you ever tried the following quizzes?
- A) What does your name tell about your future?
- B) What will you look like after 10 years?
- C) Take a personality test, find out how confident you are.
So on and so forth. All these appear to fun queries, who thrive on boosting the ego. But taking such tests, not only hands over your data to the third party, but also that of your friends. And this data leak is most prominent when you sign in to another site through Facebook or your Email – the most convenient way to get access to data.
So what do we do? Delete Facebook and other social media apps? I guess, it is impossible to do that considering that all of us so much addicted to sharing information with others, that we cannot imagine our lives without it.
But the bottom line is that after knowing all this, we cannot take the risk of continuously using social media without thinking, anymore. Every click, every like must be, every share, whether you like it or not, must be a conscious decision now on.
So what am I doing, before giving you all this lecture? Well, let me list out.
- First of all, so far I haven’t taken any of the above personality or other tests on any social media site. You can call me boring, but call me too lazy or old to do so, it has kept my data safe
- I have now enabled the “do not track” feature on my web browser, whether on my laptop or smartphone. These days it is called ‘Incognito’.
- Call me a privacy-freak or something, my location has always been turned off on my phone for all apps, except at GPS tracker (for safety purposes).
- I have deleted umpteen third-party apps from my phone and laptop, which require to sign me through my email or Facebook.
- Now I only share my work – my weekly columns with various publications as a freelance journalist
- I keep in touch with people, mostly offline. Sounds old school? I call it old technique for data safety.
- I use the ‘Like’ button sparingly; it has to be related mostly to my work.
I don’t believe in deleted social media app since they not only bring so much information but also promote the work I do, and in-turn gets me more work. But yes, I do believe in taking all possible measures to avoid a mindless activity that prevents my data from being stolen. In short, wise use of social media is all about knowing the difference between being able to see the truth and being manipulated.
Photos from the Internet
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A science graduate from Delhi University and MA in Mass Communication, Mahima began her career with E-Lexicon PR & Mutual PR and Hindustan Times. Soon, ANI (a collaboration with Reuters) got her aboard, where she spread her wings in TV, Print & Digital Journalism. In 2010 Rajdeep Sardesai’s flagship primetime show gave her, a dream job at CNN-IBN. From May 2017, she is a freelance journalist. She is a poet and a Sufi at heart.