What so­cial me­dia and search en­gines know about you

Not only do these ser­vices col­lect a lot of info on you but they also share or sell them.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Technology -

The Face­book scan­dal in­volv­ing the har­vest­ing of data from tens of mil­lions of users has raised a lot of ques­tions about so­cial me­dia and search en­gines.

Its founder and CeO mark Zucker­berg tes­ti­fied be­fore the US Congress last week on pro­tect­ing user data, so here is a primer on what they know about you:

So­cial me­dia

Face­book, which has more than two bil­lion users, has ac­cess to ev­ery­thing you do on the site: the pho­tos and videos you post, your com­ments, your ‘likes’, any­thing you share or con­sult, the iden­tity of your friends and any other users you in­ter­act with, your lo­ca­tion and other in­for­ma­tion.

Ditto for In­sta­gram and What­sapp, which are owned by Face­book, and for Snapchat and Twit­ter. a user can con­trol some shar­ing of their Face­book data with pri­vacy set­tings and the ad pref­er­ences page.

• What it sells:

Face­book in­sists it does not sell ad­ver­tis­ers per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able in­for­ma­tion or even ag­gre­gate data. What it pro­vides an ad­ver­tiser with is the abil­ity to reach a spe­cific de­mo­graphic, which en­hances the ef­fec­tive­ness of an ad cam­paign. Twit­ter, for its part, pro­vides ac­cess to an in­ter­nal search en­gine that sweeps up all mes­sages on the site.

• What it shares:

most so­cial me­dia plat­forms are open to out­side de­vel­op­ers who cre­ate apps fed in vary­ing de­grees by us­ing data from users of these net­works. In the case of Face­book, the pub­lic pro­file – the whole page for some peo­ple, or just the first and last name and photo for oth­ers – does not re­quire au­tho­ri­sa­tion from the user, but ac­cess­ing the rest may re­quire a sep­a­rate OK from the user.

Once data is mined by out­side apps, it is no longer in the grasp of Face­book and try­ing to get hold of it again is dif­fi­cult.

“Once peo­ple had ac­cess to that data, Face­book has no way of know­ing for sure what they did with that data,” said ryan matzner, co-founder of mo­bile app de­signer Fu­eled. “It’s like send­ing an e-mail to some­body and then say­ing: ‘What did they do with that e-mail?’ You don’t know.”

Only bank and pay­ment de­tails held by Face­book are off-lim­its.

Search en­gines

• What they col­lect:

Google, Ya­hoo and Bing gather all in­for­ma­tion in­volv­ing searches in­clud­ing the web­sites that are ac­cessed and the lo­ca­tion of the user. This can be in­te­grated with in­for­ma­tion from other ser­vices owned by the In­ter­net giants.

“You don’t have to tell Google your age and your gen­der and all those things. They can de­ter­mine all of that based on so many other fac­tors,” said Chi­rag Shah, a com­puter sci­ence pro­fes­sor at rut­gers Univer­sity.

• What they sell:

like so­cial net­works, their rev­enue comes largely from ad­ver­tis­ing. They do not sell data, but rather ac­cess to a con­sumer with very spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics.

This comes from com­pil­ing search en­gine data but also, in the case of Google, from searches and con­tent viewed on its YouTube plat­form. Google used to also mine the con­tent of Gmail be­fore end­ing this prac­tice in June.

• What they share:

Like so­cial me­dia net­works, search en­gines share data with de­vel­op­ers and third-party app mak­ers.

Are there lim­its?

In the United States there are prac­ti­cally no laws against the use of data from so­cial me­dia or search en­gines.

But the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion did sanc­tion Face­book in 2011 for its han­dling of per­sonal data.

In Canada and europe, there are some lim­its on the use of data, mainly in­volv­ing health.

Face­book was fined €110mil (rm527mil) by the euro­pean Com­mis­sion last year for shar­ing per­sonal data with What­sapp.

In an at­tempt to har­monise data pri­vacy laws, the eU’s Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tion is to go into force on may 25. — aFP

Once data is mined by out­side apps, it is no longer in the grasp of Face­book and try­ing to get hold of it again is dif­fi­cult. — 123rf.com

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