Privacy is no longer something internet companies seem to care about

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Privacy is no longer something internet companies seem to care about

Sarah Gordon, Opinion Section Editor

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Logging into Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any other free online platform is something the average American does not think twice about. They see it is a daily part of their routine, nothing that could cause them harm. Pew Research Center found that 69% of the public uses some type of social media.

However, there is one major issue with this. The amount of data that these companies collect. They range from basic information such as the user’s name, to their private messages, all the way to payment information a user might input. All of it is stored on the servers the company holds. While some data sits around and nothing is done with it, the rest of it is used for purposes such as improving the platform or for marketing strategies.

If you have ever questioned why an advertisement appeared on your feed that seemed eerily accurate, it is because various algorithms have been made by the respective social media platform to find the perfectly curated adverts for you. They use past browsing history on the platform plus whatever data has been stored in your browser’s cache and cookies to choose which advertisements to display. While the relevance of the advertisements is nice, the data they store can pose risks for all users.

The most recent example of this would be the scandal with Cambridge Analytica. This company had to shut down due to the fact they bought and utilized the data of 89 million Facebook data. There is a strong chance that they utilized this information to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, as various demographic information including a user’s political affiliation was collected. The data was collected without the proper knowledge of users, and it took Facebook four years to discover that this was occurring.  The initial problem occurred in 2014.

Now, companies are attempting to fix their privacy policies, assuring users they will have more control over their data and being more transparent about what they are gathering. However, this does not mean they are going to allow users to prevent certain data from being stored. They have to wait until they are granted the opportunity to delete it from the servers.

This collection of data is harming a majority of people. The users get no opportunity to opt out of data collection if they want to use the platform. Their options are to either accept the terms or conditions, or not use the platform at all. Social media companies are not acknowledging a need for privacy and continue with their unethical practices.

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