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Invasion of Privacy Through Social Media

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Invasion of Privacy through Social Media

Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, every user is made to click on ‘I accept all terms and conditions’ before they can actually access the website. These terms are nothing but a privacy policy of the website. A privacy policy is a type of legal document that makes a user aware of the ways a platform would gather and use data provided by the user. A Deloitte survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S found that 91% of people consent to legal terms and services conditions without reading them. (Cakebread, 2017) This leads to lack of awareness on the part of users. A user and a platform enter into a contractual relationship the minute user consents to the privacy policy.

Every platform has a different privacy policy. For instance, on the face of it, it appears that Facebook is a social platform where we share our life updates and get to know others’. However, there is way more to it. Facebook uses the information that we have to send us marketing communications and communicate with us about our products. Moreover, Facebook provides advertisers with reports about the kinds of people seeing their ads and how their ads are performing, but Facebook doesn't share information that personally identifies us unless we give our permission.(Facebook Data Policy) Generally, every platform promises to protect and value the privacy of its users. However, this is not the same always. In 2010, a Wall Street journal investigation found that Facebook admitted that its top 10 most popular applications including FarmVille and Texas Hold`em shared user data, including names and friends' names, with advertisers which is one of the highest profile problem of any platform. (Steel & Fowler, 2010)

It all doesn’t end at sharing users’ data with third party. Many platforms, even, have a constant record of the location of the user. If we look at the privacy policy of Apple, it says that the location is collected using GPS and stored anonymously. However, Apple Fiasco of 2011 reveals how two researchers found out a file in the iphone which had a track of the user’s past 12 months’ location. (Richard, 2017) The general notion was that if we turn on our GPS, our location would be tracked. But, it was found out that even if we don’t turn the GPS on, our location can be tracked through cell towers. We are constantly being monitored and categorised in order to maximise their own profits. The only remedy is such invasion is awareness of the solutions. People can delete cookies, take care of their smartphone’s settings, use advanced online tools, log out each time and browse privately in incognito mode. (Turow, 2018)

Recently, signing up on a digital platform has become equivalent to selling your personal information. Though privacy policy of every platform clearly has a clause which states that none of their personal information would pass on to a third party, it doesn’t happen in practice. Many people are unaware of such invasion of privacy. But for those who are aware still don’t have enough choice because if they don’t consent to the policy, they won’t get the access. It seems like ‘our digital footprints are like open books’.

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