Facebook, Instagram, Tinder and other very popular platforms access the data of the people who use them on a daily basis
By Desirée JaimovichOctober 30, email@example.com Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
Name, email, location, interactions, preferences … There are various user data collected by the most used applications. When the terms and conditions are accepted, companies are given access to obtain and store a certain amount of information that these companies then use to provide their services.
In practice, users do not usually take the time to read (and understand) all the terms and conditions of use to understand exactly what they are accessing. And it is logical: doing so would be materially impossible. According to a report by Visual Capitalist, a user would need an average of 250 hours to read the agreements of all the services that he uses on his cell phones or computers. Added to this is the difficulty in understanding many of these texts that are not necessarily written in plain language.
The debate around the amount of information that applications collect is not new. In recent times, this point has been a factor of analysis by institutions and governments around the world. In Europe, it prompted the implementation in 2018 of the Personal Data Protection Act (GDPR) that regulates the way in which platforms collect information and holds them responsible in the event that such data is used for unspecified purposes or be subject to leaks.
When using social networks, downloading applications and browsing the web, a digital footprint is generated that companies use to offer personalized services that, also, allow them to show more targeted ads to that audience. That ability to attract interest and show targeted advertising is what allows companies to get more advertisers. Hence, it is said that data is the new oil of the 21st century.
Sites and apps access user data to personalize the user experience and also to better target their ads
All sites where content or other services are consumed for “free” are paid for with personal data. What is not paid with money, is paid with information. Many users know this and agree to give their data (even without knowing exactly what they offer) because they want to continue obtaining those benefits.
“Data privacy seems increasingly a rare commodity. The normal citizen can hardly aspire to total privacy in digital spaces. It is true that contact with all digital channels and associated services (banking, health, education, transportation, entertainment) can be interrupted, but the cost would be very high, ”warns Cristóbal Cobo, specialist in Education and Technology Policies, in his book “I accept the Conditions: uses and abuses of digital technologies”.
What do you do in this situation? For now, educate and promote digital literacy so that citizens are aware of these business models and thus can understand and therefore consciously choose if they want to be part of this exchange.
It is vital that the user asks himself before downloading an app if it is really necessary to do so, that he read the agreements or at least see what permissions the platforms already installed access on his mobile. To do this, simply enter the configuration menu and follow the steps mentioned in this note .
Social networks became a large public data bank (Photo: Pixabay)
It is also important to account for the different tools that can be used as a user to limit the collection of data when browsing the web. There are extensions like Ghostery that allow you to do this. There are search engines like Duck Duck Go that allow you to reduce digital traces, and it is also possible to configure Chrome to take care of privacy when surfing the web.
It is true that these are strategies to minimize certain exposure, but nothing prevents data from being shared completely. It is also true that some apps will continue to be used even when it is seen that they access an amount of data that can be considered excessive and this will happen because stopping using these services may imply being left out of the virtual world, which can be a great discomfort , as Cobo warns.
Hence, it is so important that the issue is analyzed and public debate is encouraged so that more regulations are generated with the aim of protecting user data. The GDPR in Europe is a good example of this and surely in the coming years we will see new guidelines emerge in this regard.