How Private Are Our Private Lives?

We are living in the digital era where social media started off as something fun, getting people closer but now has turned out to be something which is consuming most of the lives of the millennials. Social networking sites have become the essential means for communication. While these platforms help make the whole exchanging information between individuals easy, there is another aspect which has caught the attention of many. Most people’s private information is being used in far too many ways that they do not approve of.

Today most of us wake up and post every detail of ours on social media for our friends and family to see. But how much of our privacy are we unknowingly giving up? The fact is that many of us do not see the terms and conditions of the application before we sign up and this way we are compromising on our privacy unknowingly. It needs to be understood that our posts are not only viewed by our friends/families, the data we create is used for a lot more. This article will talk about the various ways we are giving up on our privacy without being completely aware of it.

All of the various social media platforms collect information like name, email address, age, gender while signing up and this combined with other personal information gives them lot of data which can be sold to third parties to target the users with ads based on their likes and preferences. Various apps like Uber and Spotify allow the user to log in using Facebook which is very convenient but the user should be careful as to read the terms and conditions that they are agreeing to. Terms and conditions are usually skipped while signing up and through this we are giving consent for the company to use our data that they have collected. The third party apps use this information for various purposes to gain an advantage as was seen in the case of Cambridge Analytica, the company which used the user information for Trump’s election campaign.

We as users are of the opinion that we can manage how private our information is through the various privacy settings being offered to us but what we do not notice is that there is a lot more to this mentioned in detail in their terms and conditions section which we conveniently skip while joining. This can be understood better by taking yet another example. Snapchat has been receiving backslash for its terms and conditions. The one unique feature of this platform is its disappearing messages. However, it was stated in the terms and conditions that they can go through the messages and also share the information with other third parties and their business partners. The company has not encrypted the messages which means they can view the content being exchanged between the users. Even now they collect various information about your device like the battery percentage, device memory, information about hardware and software, other apps installed on the device etc.

Instagram also collects the above said information and monitors the user activity to help the advertising companies and partners to understand the effectiveness of their ads and their response to them. In addition to that, they also collect location related information, like the current location, where the user lives etc. are used to improve the ads that the users are shown.

After reading this article we have understood that by excessive usage of the social media we are giving up our privacy in the hands of others. All of these applications that we use on a daily basis are making money out of our private information. We cannot however completely blame the companies as all that they do has been clearly stated in their terms and conditions and it is our responsibility to not sign up for something without knowing complete information. Our negligence is costing us as we lose our privacy day by day. Our information is being sold and given to various other third parties without our consent.

It is obvious that we are in a stage now where we cannot imagine living without social media but does that mean it comes at the cost of killing our privacy or personal space? Where should the line be drawn as to how much of our information can be allowed to collect and used? Should the companies be allowed to collect and use our information as they are doing it now? These are questions we need to answer before it is too late. Otherwise we might end up in a world where there is no such thing as personal or private life.

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