According to the generic definition, we humans are considered as social animals. But in the past decade, the SOCIAL MEDIA has been successful in changing this definition. Social media has been interlinked with our lives so much that now it is hard for people to re-imagine their lives without it. At the very core of this evolution of change in lifestyle and the way we look at things have been a few companies. These once so called small companies now control what people see online and try to mend the perspective of an average social media user by curating the feed and thereby changing the mindset of that person. These companies are none other than the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. The recent facebook scandal has been able to create the hype and seek attention of a large number of people. But some people have been ranting about such privacy breaches since a long time. It is now when people have started to notice them.
In the facebook scandal, involvement of many third parties is the thing which makes it complex. Cambridge Analytica, which is a Britain based data research company was able to drive the opinion of a majority of US voters during the 2016 Presidential elections by supporting the Republican party. Things go back to 2014, when Cambridge analytica asked Dr. Aleksandr Kogan to develop an application named “thisisyourdigitallife” by paying him $8,00,000. This app by Kogan asked permission from the users to access their data and fill out a survey. But the app in hindsight also collected other personal data from the users, such as their likes, dislikes, the type of content they watch online and much more.
After collecting the data, a psychological profile of a particular candidate was prepared. Kogan collected the data of nearly 2,70,000 users, but the app was also able to collect the data of the friends of the person on FB who has filled the survey. As a resu;t, the data of nearly 50 million users was breached and then sold to Cambridge analytica.
Cristopher Wyile, who was a former data scientist at Cambridge analytica came to know about the facebook scandal and the fact that Cambridge analytica has not deleted the data collected from Kogan’s app, but has been using it to build the psychological profiles of the users. These users were then targeted with curated content on their facebook wall. They were shown ads which were in favor of Donald Trump and asking for donations for the Presidential campaigning. This is how the opinion of millions of people was mended to bring in desired results.
HOW DOES ALL THIS AFFECT YOU ?
This is the question of majority people, that what can facebook or any other company which collects your data can affect you personally or individually? Well, the answer is diverse. It can affect you on a personal level and in the society which we live in. We are slowly handing over the keys which drive the society to these social media companies. According to a study in 2017, Google and Facebook captured almost 20% of the global digital marketing share. This statement in itself can show the future dominance of these digital media moguls.
The news which you watch on your facebook wall has been curated just for the user. The FB wall of an individual is like a personalized headline newspaper which is based upon the interests of the user. It has been created in such a way that people are getting addicted to it. Facebook is changing entire social fabric and the way people look at things. These social media apps have been created in such a way that the user spends maximum time scrolling through the posts. These also include Instagram and Twitter. ‘Fake News’ has been the buzz word of 2017. The amount of fake news which is created nowadays, and the speed at which it is shared by the users to their respective groups is creating a devastating effect.
Whatsapp is also playing a major role in this. Whatsapp started off as a messaging app. After the group feature has been created, people within the groups can share pictures and links. These groups have been a primary source of information for many people. But many a times, the news or the messages which are being circulated on these groups are baseless and fake.
WHAT TO DO ?
Well, if you think that you can not spend a day without these apps. Or if they have been an integral part of your daily routine, then congratulations! You are not alone. The addiction of social media is getting worse day by day. What you can do is at least don’t share news which are not credible, because what you share can be the primary source of news for many people in this new ‘social_media_addict’ world. Stay away from third party surveys which ask for your data. While installing a new app, take a pause and think logically before giving permission to any app. ‘Why would a simple collage making app require your microphone access?’
But ultimately, we are humans, SOCIAL ANIMALS. Lets try to socialize the way we were meant to be and not be driven by a single app and take decisions accordingly. Or else anytime you can #deletefacebook.