Tampa Bay Times

Listen to USF professor: Be wary of social media


The latest news revolving around Cambridge Analytica and the use of personal data gathered through Facebook may have shocked some, but having shared a panel with University of South Florida professor Kelli Burns last fall, I knew social media isn’t about helping us connect with friends.

It’s about companies profiting from our data. Burns, who has written two books on social media, said everyone should care about data privacy.

“We are seeing ads by Russian propagandi­sts that are threatenin­g our democracy, content in news feeds that uses a sophistica­ted algorithm to keep us scrolling and checked out of real life, and ads for products advertiser­s think we need, possibly convincing us that we actually do need those products,” Burns said.

She notes that future legislatio­n may force online data brokers to provide more informatio­n about the data they collect and how they use it. For now, however, we need to manage the “digital shadows” we’re leaving behind. No longer can we treat social media as a passing fancy . . . .

Teenage speakers delivered poignant comments at Saturday’s March for Our Lives, including Steinbrenn­er High School senior Isabella Cruz-O’Grady.

“When a whole bunch of snowflakes get together and start fighting back, it’s called a blizzard,” Cruz-O’Grady said.

The teeming momentum generated by the March for Our Lives movement comes not only from inspiring teens, it’s fueled by my generation watching these kids succeed where we’ve failed.

Our role now is to not only lend support to those engaging politicall­y, but to get more young people, regardless of perspectiv­e, to wake up and believe in the process. We need them to care.

That’s all I’m saying.

ehooper@tampabay.com ??
ERNEST HOOPER ehooper@tampabay.com
 ??  ?? Terrika Young
Terrika Young

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