- How Data Collection Works On Social Networking Sites
- How Much of Your Data Is On Social Media Sites?
- What Information Do Social Networking Sites Collect?
- What Can I Do to Protect Myself and My Data?
- You Can Hide Your Social Media Identity
- The Bottom Line
Privacy in the digital era has become an antique concept of the past. With tagged photos, online timestamps, event RSVPs, geolocation check-ins, and more, these sites learn a lot about the people using social networking sites.
Any data available about a particular user, whether it’s their political beliefs, college alma mater, birthday, or relationship status, it’s all part of their social media data profile.
Nowadays, accessing social networking sites requires you to submit crucial social media data, a sacrifice most people won’t mind making.
Consequently, the data will be available for mining, and companies can use it to understand specific users and whole user segments better.
How Data Collection Works On Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites allow users to create accounts where they provide their demographic, preference, and behavioral data about themselves.
This information is usually available on your posts, likes, and the things you accept or search for using your devices.
The data is crucial for big data scientists and companies which use it to create personas that can establish your age, gender, preferences, and much more.
Essentially, these companies generate computer-based personalities using the data collected from your device. As such, they might know more about you than your friends or family members do.
How Much of Your Data Is On Social Media Sites?
Social networking sites collect tons of user data. Most people don’t even know how much of their information giant corporations save and track.
According to a recent study, Instagram leads in tapping your data. This popular photo-sharing social network shares up to 79% of your data with advertisers and third parties.
This includes your current location, browsing history, and contacts. If you’ve ever used the app for shopping, your financial information could be out there.
Following closely is Facebook. The social network shares up to 57% of your social media data with third-party agencies.
It’s also among the first entities to leverage facial recognition, but it has since stepped back on this feature due to concerns regarding misuse and potential surveillance risks.
What Information Do Social Networking Sites Collect?
Apart from tracking your posts, shares, and likes, social networking platforms also collect a long list of user data, including but not limited to the following:
Behavioral Social Media Data
This data highlights the patterns you might follow during your journey to perform an action prompted by advertisers.
The actions include visiting a webpage, purchasing, or sharing a post. Some of the most crucial behavioral data points on social networks include:
Social Media Engagement Data
Social networking sites collect and measure your engagement data to track how you interact with their platform, advertiser sites, and third parties.
The most common examples of engagement data metrics that social media companies use include the following:
Mobile app and website interactions – App stickiness, site visits, user flow, most viewed pages, traffic sources, etc.
Personal Social Media Data
This refers to data regarding a person’s identity that could threaten their identity. Most social media data points are inaccessible to marketers to protect the security and identity of users.
However, companies can access less-revealing data points such as gender, age, and birthdays. Other details in this category include:
Attitudinal Social Media Data
This refers to data concerning your emotions and feelings. Social networking platforms you’re your attitudinal data to measure how you perceive certain social media content, messages, and other information.
It is subjective, hence is usually compiled using interviews, polls, surveys, user complaints, reviews, user feedback, etc.
Social Media Preference Data
Preference data covers how a social media user identifies or supports some ideas, activities, content, etc. Common examples of users’ preference information include:
Your cake company can use all these details collected by your social media platform to create targeted ads for Game of Thrones fans offering Game of Thrones-themed cakes.
And by doing this, the baking company can become a more relevant and relatable alternative to other similar companies that leverage a more general approach to their social network campaigns.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself and My Data?
The best way to substantially protect yourself from the tracking mechanisms is to follow these steps:
You Can Hide Your Social Media Identity
Here’s the kicker: Remaining truly anonymous online is virtually impossible. That said, hiding some of your identifying data is still possible.
Begin by masking your device details, location, and online activity using a VPN (a virtual private network).
The tool encrypts your data and traffic and disguises your browser metadata, IP address, and personal details like passwords, banking data, or internet searches.
However, the protection is limited when browsing social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook since they can still view your posts, likes, the accounts you interact with and follow, and every bit of financial and personal information you share on the platforms.
It’s also possible to hide your social media identity using a fake profile with a false online name (an alias or pseudonym), a fake email address, and a generic profile pic.
At the moment, many people on social media already protect their privacy using fake accounts, although some use this method to achieve unscrupulous goals.
The Bottom Line
The social networking platforms you frequent know more about you than you think. They collect crucial data based on browsing habits and preferences and use this information to serve personalized ads.
This, in turn, raises tons of money for the giant corporations yet subjects you to impersonation and identity theft risks.
Fortunately, the above guidelines can help you beat the data-collecting bots to secure your social media data.
Moreover, hiding your social media identity can go a long way in ensuring that none of your genuine data lands in the wrong hands.