Many people, if not the majority, have a social media presence. We share pictures of our vacations to the dinners we eat. It can be fun to see what our friends and family are doing without having to visit them or call them. Plus, we have the chance to share interesting videos, articles or even give our personal opinions on various topics and events. We can do all of this without having to pay a cent for any of these services. However, social media has a darker side than what is perceived on the surface. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube all make their revenue off of advertising. We are in fact paying for the use of these site by volunteering our personal information to these sites.
Personal information constitutes more than just information about our lives. It encompasses everything we do on a particular social media site. Our online activity is constantly being recorded, and it is for a specific purpose. The reason why social media sites record everything we do on their sites is to create a personalize profile for each and every one of us. By clicking a specific article or liking a video posted, social media site can predict what we like and dislike. This information becomes of high value when companies want to market to a specific audience. Marketers do not need mass messaging anymore. All they need now is to ask a social media site to provide them an audience of their requirements. This is targeted advertisement.
Social media site employ data scientists, sociologists and even psychologists to better determine algorithms that can predict a person’s online behavior and personality. If someone can predict what you are likely to do in a situation, then it is much easier to sell something to you. This is even more relevant when presidential candidates are campaigning and seeking donations. During campaigns, candidates can better target their audience based on the feedback from social media. Regardless if you are posting funny videos using video production in Houston or liking random pictures of friends in Chicago. An online profile of you has been created by the social media site that you use the most.
With machine learning and advancement of artificial intelligence, social media site are getting better at not only predicting your personality and behavior but also you as a person. Facial recognition technology has reached a point that recognizing faces is no difficult task. In fact, the technology can now recognize you even when wearing sunglasses or a hat. Now this is not alarming when we are using it for tagging friends, but it become alarming when unwanted people get a hold of this data. Imagine if a person with malicious intent decided to start tracking where you have been and your friends. They could easily start predicting where and when you will be present. Likewise, if big brother wanted to start keeping more tabs on its citizens.
Social media has brought us closer in many ways, but there are many new questions being asked about its ethical use of the information being gather.