Decades before social media became the quintessential need that it is today, actor Marlon Brando once quipped “Privacy is not something I’m merely entitled to. It’s an absolute pre-requisite.”
Privacy is a right and should never be optional. Unfortunately, several apps rake in billions of dollars by tracking and storing our data, thus essentially stripping us of our right to privacy.
You are the product
Definitely, the old media adage “When the product is free, then you are the product” still holds true today. We, the internet users, have become the product that companies sell every single time we touch our device screen and read a social media notification. Because once you type in your personal data such as email, contact details and address, those can easily be harvested, stored, and used to generate profit.
How is that possible?
Let’s say you want to order food online. To do that, you have to download the app, register yourself by inputting your full name, address, email and phone number. You’ll also be asked for your credit card details. Once you sign in, you’ll then go to the list of food items and meals to order. You click on several choices, and even look at some ads, before finally deciding which to buy.
For the company that runs the app or social media platform, every single second you were there on their site -touching tabs, clicking on buttons – is gold mine. Now the company knows your interests, your diet, even your hobbies. Your search history tells it all. Using this information, they can customize your interface to find the best way to persuade you to buy, or become a member, or subscribe, or just simply to transform your browsing habits. The tech industry call this “user experience”. The catch is the information you shared can now be used (or fed into the algorithm) to keep you returning and thirsting for more.
The argument presented by giant tech companies is that when share your information on the public domain using their platform or app, you essentially welcome and give permission for them to use that information. It’s just how the game is played, or so they say.
It should not be that companies track our online activities to the level they do. While it seems that this practice will not be censured anytime soon, the best recourse at this time is to understand the risks and adopt necessary precautionary measures when using social media.
Quick tips on how to reduce the risks of privacy attacks according to Norton Security:
- Limit the information you share on social media. It’s not just your personal data such as email or your birthday that you need to keep under wraps. Even the seemingly casual information or photo that you share can be used for sinister motives such as hacking, security breach and identity theft. Photos uploaded to social media have meta data about location and device and can create a trail of the places you visit, like or engage with. If you are knowingly sharing this information then that’s fine. But most people don’t realise the information being shared.
- Think before you click. Pop up ads are tricky. Nowadays, companies that want to sell something use various ways to trick you into clicking on their ads, only the ads don’t look like they’re selling something. Just be careful what you click and don’t visit or stay on sites that are clearly not secure. Go to legitimate sites only.
- Use incognito or privacy mode. If you really want to be sure your online footprint will not end up all over the place, go to privacy mode. This is offered on Chrome, Safari, and Edge.
There are still a number of security options you can do to ensure your privacy but the above tips will get you started on the right track.
If you are a start-up business or small enterprise who only wants to maximize the advantage of marketing online, there are ways to earn the trust of your would-be customers.
Better focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to grow customers with an immediacy to purchase.
With SEO, you can be sure to get high visibility once your legitimacy is recognised by Google and other search engines. The goal is to create your market base by directing them to a clean, secure, and beautiful online space that is your website. Being easily discoverable through SEO is the secret to marketing success.
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