I am changing the way I see social media.
How we handle the data that we offer into the open world and commercial business is important. The choices we make need to be measured, thought out, and smart. Many choose to be totally open about everything we do, everywhere we go, who we are with, and that is 100% fine for some people. Others are varying degrees of that, but it needs to be what works for them. There are costs to all of this, and it is a measure of how important you think these costs are.
I don’t have a problem about use of data in today’s world. I work for an organisation that specialises in the use of data for improving healthcare and working towards greater efficiency in delivering services based upon the needs of patients. Large scale data use with anonymised or pseudonymised data can deliver great benefits in research and service improvement.
When social profiling is being used about individuals based on the information that we have shared, we become the ‘subject’ rather than being the ‘customer’. That balance has significantly shifted, and it was predictably so. This hasn’t just come about recently, but with recent news stories, it does give us the option to review our interaction and levels of privacy. I totally understand how Facebook and other organisations are in this for money rather than providing a public service, regardless of their much-publicised desire ‘to connect people’. The shift in focus for us as subjects is a call to make decisions on how we operate and what we are, as individuals, happy with.
Having downloaded my data file from Facebook, it was surprising to see every conversation via Messenger saved, all the people I had interacted with over the years, everyone’s contact details, all the adverts I had clicked or not clicked, apps that I have installed, pages I have liked, tv programmes and films I have said I have watched, groups that I am part of, events I have been invited to, and so on. After a while, Artificial Intelligence will know more about me than I do about myself! How very Black Mirror!
What do other people think?
I have spoken with some people who have said they are perfectly happy with this shift. Great. I have spoken to some others who have said that they don’t like the feel of Facebook right now but feel they must be on there for that connectivity with others, either through groups/events or through messaging functionality. As long as people are making their own decisions based on what works for them, and at what costs, then this is a good thing.
Facebook has many, many benefits and society would be a very different place without it. We need to ensure we use the tool whilst being aware of how what we offer up to it is being used, and to remain comfortable with the balance.
It is for this reason why I am deleting my Facebook profile and re-starting a fresh one. By paying a closer view on what information I am essentially offering to be part of my social profile that will be used to target my interest, I am remaining in control of my data, information, and the person behind it all.
Some people won’t understand the reasoning behind all this and think it is a bit drastic, but we all need to make our own decisions on how we handle OUR data as subjects and how WE share it with others.