Large Social Media Companies Exposing Personal Data

Category: Business
Date added
2022/05/02
Pages:  9
Words:  2652
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Throughout history, the United States has always experienced innovative ideas and inventions that have served well for the people and the country. The Industrial Revolution revolutionized the entire globe in its technological advancements with the steam train and light bulb. Nonetheless, inventions like these facilitate the lives of millions of individuals across the globe. Entering the modern age, technology has advanced at such a rapid rate that it is becoming impressive how ideas are turning into reality. Companies like YouTube, Myspace, and eBay started to emerge and change the daily lives of millions of Americans. YouTube started as a basic vlog page for posting videos and it later became the world’s leading video-sharing website. Other great organizations like Apple, Microsoft, and IBM have paved the way for the development of outstanding technological advancements. With the introduction of the first Macintosh by Apple and the PC produced by Microsoft, it was clear that the United States was in the merge of entering the technological and digital age. The digital age is composed of facilitating everyday activities with the help of technology and data. The use and storing of data allow individuals to store a plethora amount of information in a single flash drive or computer. In addition, technological advancements have served as positive contributors to society. These advancements have allowed individuals across the nation to connect with loved ones, store valuable information, and even shop online. Having technology increased at a rapid rate, this phenomenon has forced businesses to adapt to the environment and update their business models and functions. The organization has implemented e-commerce as a way to shop online without the need to go to a store. Convenience has become a key factor to have profitable earnings. However, this technological revolution brought social media into the scene. Social media giants like Facebook and Google have turned into almost monopolies in the social media environment. Facebook has approximately two million users worldwide and 200 million in the US while Google+ has one billion users globally. The numbers are immense and it is clear to understand that the internet has become a great source for market business operations. Nonetheless, platforms like Facebook and Google+ require users to submit basic information such as age, sex, and location. With this information, companies can market effectively to users, thus encouraging them to purchase products from their websites. The sale of personal data by Facebook and Google+ ensures privacy and ethical concerns, yet still by making internet use and purchasing more convenient. This essay will provide the reader with the importance of why social media giants like Facebook and Google+ have decided to sell users’ data to 3rd party companies and examine their tactics in how they can accomplish this and how this can be unbeneficial and beneficial.

Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes during their time at Harvard University. Facebook originally started as a small social network among Harvard students and later became a social network for college students only. In fact, to register to the original “Facebook”, the user needed to include his/her college/university email only. As soon as Facebook began to acquire popularity across the United States, it shifted to the whole public rather than just college students. With this said, in 2009 Facebook gained recognition across the world and became a leading social network. Having over 2 million users globally, Facebook has turned into daily essential to the lives of many individuals. Facebook is also a free app found on the App Store, Google Play Store, and desktops. Facebook’s accessibility to allow the app to be used for free attracts millions of users across the globe to use the app. Facebook is not a niche that only relies on a small population to operate, but instead, they offer its services to any individual that complies with the Facebook registration regulations. They receive the majority of their income from companies paying for advertisements to be shown on users’ feeds. That being said, a foundation must be established to identify Facebook’s flaws regarding privacy and security. Facebook claims that users can edit their private information such as sharing photos with “only friends” or “everyone”[i]. With this said, Facebook provides the necessary elements to keep personal data private from other users. However, the issue being faced here is the fact that Facebook is sharing that information with 3rd parties. Facebook offers privacy within the app, however, Facebook has access to all of its user’s information, thus selling it to other 3rd parties is done with no hassle. Nonetheless, socially, there is this belief that user data is private and not shared. With this said, Facebook informed its audience that it sold 87 million users’ data to political firms[ii]. These firms acquired users’ political affiliations and market to them accordingly. Not only did this data include political affiliations but also name, gender, date of birth, and email or phone number[iii]. Facebook users consider this as a breach of security towards their data. One can consider that a breach of privacy back in the days was someone having access to social security numbers or bank accounts. Eventually, this can lead to lawsuits if potentially, with evidence present, prove that due to Facebook’s unethical acts have allowed its users to face unwanted problems like identity theft. However, living in the digital age, personal data has become extremely valuable to 3rd parties than ever before. Facebook is a social media platform that nearly everyone has and the demographics on this application vary at large ranges. For example, Facebook users can create a profile for the ages of 13 and above. Individuals all over the globe use Facebook and this shows how immense Facebook has turned out to be. Users of all races, gender, and religious affiliations use this social platform to express their views and ideas. However, people have lost faith in the social media giant because, in recent years, Facebook servers have been breached, resulting in the loss of data of users. With this said, hackers want their part in acquiring user data, however, Facebook’s willingness to sell users’ data to 3rd parties can almost equate to the ones of a hacker. Hackers are known to acquire personal data and sell it on the deep web. It is an issue about trust and concluding if Facebook can keep a user’s information confidential. With this said, users have concluded that they have lost trust in Facebook’s privacy settings because their information is being exposed to other compaGoogle+’snies.

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As much as Facebook proclaims to keep users’ data private, yet they sell it to 3rd parties, users feel that their identities are being juggled around. With this said, Google+ comes into play in demonstrating how they effectively took users’ data to sell them ads. Google+ was launched in 2011 by Google as a social media platform for the technological conglomerate. Google+ was created to compete against Facebook. With this said, because Google+ is a free social media account to use, users from different demographics utilize the account. In addition, users of Google+ demonstrate diversity like Facebook. Google+’s intentions to operate as a social media are vital for its development, however, Google+ intentions were to create a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn. Social media could be used to interact with friends, yet at the same time save important work information. Google+’s intentions to surpass Facebook took a surprise by discovering that its social media account was not as successful as Facebook. After an unsuccessful start, Google+ redesigned its system completely and included much more features like social circles and more user interaction. Nonetheless, Google+’s efforts to maintain themselves on top of the chart remained for a short time after announcing its shutdown. Wondering what could have contributed to the fall of this social media, Google+ utilized the application to take users’ data and sell it to 3rd parties for effective advertisement[iv]. Google+ would go through users’ emails and acquired keywords from their emails. After this was done, Google sold the information to 3rd parties so that they could effectively market to trousers individuals. The revenue acquired from this was in the billions for Google. This was stopped in 2017 after being discovered and challenged. This pattern of personal data being sold to 3rd parties is being seen a lot more often than before. Opposing sides to this argument declare that that is the price to pay for using free social networks[v]. Of course, it is a valid argument, however, the fact that personal information is once again being juggled around, makes it very dangerous and could fall in the wrong hands.

After understanding the intentions of Facebook and Google+ in understanding why they sell users’ data. Individuals living in the United States can be affected negatively by this. Understanding that in the 21st Century personal data is as valuable as a bank account number, users’ data is out there without them not even knowing. This can be an issue on the side of ethics. How can these tech giants not take advantage of users’ data without being unethical with it? Technology and ethics have become a new arena of ethics in today’s world. The phrase “technology and ethics” has yet to be defined with precise precision by evaluating its outcomes in today’s world. Furthermore, ethics can be an issue and liberty as well. The liberty to keep personal data confidential is no longer a thing. Technological giants are breaching that liberty that U.S. citizens have by controlling their data. Of course, it is understandable that the “terms and conditions” specifically explain the rights of the social media account, however, these media accounts should not have the ability to juggle users’ data like company assets and sell them for revenue. During Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing, Facebook admitted that website admins watched over and speculated how users navigated and operated the app. Not only is this ‘creepy’ but it portrays a clear scene from 1984 and ‘Big Brother. Having eyes watching someone constantly and their activity leads only to a vital question; where is the line drawn?

Understanding that there is a negative side to users and their data being sold to 3rd parties, a positive side still emerges from this. According to various tech experts, selling or giving personal data to 3rd parties allow for more effective personalized advertising. For example, if a person is a fan of muscle cars then with the appropriate marketing, 3rd parties will advertise muscle car parts or cars to that individual. That being said, the person would much rather see muscle car advertisements than irrelevant ads like clothes or computers. The purpose of sharing the data with these companies is that it aligns well with the user’s interest[vi].

Careful analysis can be conducted after discovering the intentions of Facebook and Google+. Both social network platforms operate to give users the best possible service for free. Nonetheless, little do users know that their data is being exchanged for that free service. Both operating apps serve the same purpose, yet with different dynamics. This can be observed how Facebook focuses on social interaction while Google+ focuses on social interactions with a feel of business/work in it as well. Research has concluded that individuals are most likely to agree to terms and conditions without reading carefully. Both sides of the argument have legitimate explanations as to why it is convenient to give the data to 3rd parties and why it is not convenient. With this said, allowing 3rd parties to acquire users’ data allows for more accurate and effective advertising toward users. This result will induce the users to click on the ad and purchase whatever what marketed to him/her. Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, giving off personal data to 3rd parties can be quite risky since they also can sell and give users’ data to other 3rd parties. Eventually, it becomes a balance of what is convenient for the individual and if they are in favor of allowing their basic information to be released to other parties.

In conclusion, the digital age has already begun to leave its fingerprint by bringing highly controversial issues to the table. It is crucial to consider that almost 100 years ago the first computer was invented and note how technological advancements have increased immensely. Nonetheless, technology will continue to increase at rapid rates and individual personal data will become either a hidden treasure or just basic information. The digital revolution has revolutionized the entire world in how it operates. Going back in time, business transactions and marketing were done on paper or face-to-face. However, in the 21st century, that has changed drastically and has resulted in a new style of operating. The business has become wireless, marketing is not done by newspapers anymore but through ads on social media. Innovative ideas are only surging and becoming a reality little by little. Future nation leaders must be prepared to face the obstacle of cyber privacy and its effects. Legislation is being considered right now to prevent more breaches of personal data by these large media companies. It is up to the user to make sure to protect their data by understanding what they “agree” to, but there has to be a level of accountability on the side of these giant companies because it is certain that those famous CEOs would not like if others had their data. Looking at this issue from different perspectives can bring different points of view. That is the topic point where the CEO must consider and watch for the people’s data rather than making lots of money out of it. On the other side, these CEOs claim to give users more relevant ads by doing so. There are two sides to this and individuals will eventually decide which side benefits them the most. However, technology is advancing more and more every year and individuals must catch up with regulations and legislation to limit the abuse of personal data distribution. ?

Endnotes

  1. Shaohui Liu, Daniel Bo-Wei Chen, Long Gong, Wen Ji, Sanghyun Seo, A real-time video watermarking algorithm for authentication of small-business wireless surveillance networks, International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, 2015, p.62, January 2015
  2. Vanian, Jonathan. ‘Facebook Is the Least Trusted Major Tech Company When It Comes to Safeguarding Personal Data, Poll Finds.’ Fortune. November 8, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018. http://fortune.com/2018/11/08/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-reputation/.
  3. Shaohui Liu, Daniel Bo-Wei Chen, Long Gong, Wen Ji, Sanghyun Seo, A real-time video watermarking algorithm for authentication of small-business wireless surveillance networks, International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, 2015, p.63, January 2015
  4. Popken, Ben. ‘Google Sells the Future, Powered by Your Personal Data.’ NBCNews.com. May 10, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/google-sells-future-powered-your-personal-data-n870501.
  5. Griffin, Andrew. ‘Here’s Every Bit of Data Facebook It Is Collecting about You.’ The Independent. April 23, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-data-about-me-how-to-find-ads-information-browsing-history-a8318741.html.
  6. Minkara, Omer. ‘Using Customer Data for Marketing: The Good, Bad & Ugly.’ Aberdeen. November 12, 2018. Accessed November 25, 2018. https://www.aberdeen.com/cmo-essentials/good-bad-ugly-using-customer-data-for-marketing/. ?

Bibliography

  1. Griffin, Andrew. ‘Here’s Every Bit of Data Facebook It Is Collecting about You.’ The Independent. April 23, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-data-about-me-how-to-find-ads-information-browsing-history-a8318741.html.
  2. Minkara, Omer. ‘Using Customer Data for Marketing: The Good, Bad & Ugly.’ Aberdeen. November 12, 2018. Accessed November 25, 2018. https://www.aberdeen.com/cmo-essentials/good-bad-ugly-using-customer-data-for-marketing/
  3. Popken, Ben. ‘Google Sells the Future, Powered by Your Personal Data.’ NBCNews.com. May 10, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/google-sells-future-powered-your-personal-data-n870501.
  4. Shaohui Liu, Daniel Bo-Wei Chen, Long Gong, Wen Ji, Sanghyun Seo, A real-time video watermarking algorithm for authentication of small-business wireless surveillance networks, International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, 2015, p.62-63, January 2015
  5. Vanian, Jonathan. ‘Facebook Is the Least Trusted Major Tech Company When It Comes to Safeguarding Personal Data, Poll Finds.’ Fortune. November 8, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018. http://fortune.com/2018/11/08/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-reputation/. 
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Large Social Media Companies Exposing Personal Data. (2022, May 02). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/large-social-media-companies-exposing-personal-data/