Social Media and Privacy

You may have wondered, “Is Facebook or other apps spying on us?”

Sometimes, you were just talking with your friend about something, to say, Mango’s online store is having a sale, and then you opened Facebook and suddenly saw an ad of Mango on the screen. People have suspicions that, Facebook is tracking our life through the mic on our phone and use the content of our conversation to target us with different ads. However, Facebook has claimed that, “Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed.”

Although it is not through your mic that these social media websites get your information, the reporter of the Wall Street Journal, Joanna Stern, has said in her article that, they have tons of other approaches to decide which ads to appear on your screen. For example, when you buy something in a grocery store, your loyalty card will keep a record of what you have bought, and then you will see ads of the exact same product or relevant products. For ads of medicine, the location information you allowed Facebook to access can report the location you are at and if this area recently has flu, ads of drugs to cure flu will then be targeted on you.

When you enter your email address, phone number or other customer ID when checking out at a store, data brokers could get your purchase history. PHOTO: ROBERT ALCARAZ/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In the movie Ingrid Goes West, Ingrid is heavily addicted to social media, she knows about Taylor and stalks her through her posts on Instagram. This movie is a warning to the public that the location function could be very dangerous in real life. News about a thief broke into someone’s house while the owner is traveling appears very frequently, all because of the owner posted pictures and location information indicating he or she is not home. Joanna Stern has also suggested that we can reduce the information exposed to social media network by turning off the location in your settings.