In the words of Mark Zuckerberg “the future is private”. A bold statement, you might say, considering it comes from the man under scrutiny over inappropriate sharing of user data (in one of the biggest scandals in social media, thus far).
I know, I know. And I agree, but still, don’t let the hype cloud your judgement, the man is still the most relevant voice in the social media phenomenon, with or without $5 bn in fines. It makes no difference.
What’s even more interesting here is that not just the future of Facebook-that’s not of the essence, but the digital world as a whole might be relying on the same principle in the coming digital era.
here is why:
When news about Facebook — Cambridge Analytics broke, the digital world as a whole was going largely unregulated, in a time when social media was gaining a lot of influence and started playing a major role in protests, riots and social movements, influencing elections.
A year later, the digital environment entered a new phase that demanded better security and created a new wave of shifts and changes in which a few strong players had each a personal stake in.
A. There were the users, wanting a change in how their personal data is handled, migrating to instagram, which truth be told was not such a smart move, as instagram also owned by Facebook, did not offer better security at the time (nor in present). But the migration is not important, in the sense that whether is facebook or instagram, we are talking about the same entity owning both larger than life platforms.
B. There were the electoral interests fighting to close the new found “Pandora’s box” that social media was threatening to become.
C. And then, in an oversimplified scenario (let’s keep things simple for a while) there was Facebook. Maybe not the de facto creator of social media, but most certainly it’s first, biggest, most successful promoter, to say the least.
Now, a year later, the platform is taking a privacy-focused approach saying it wants to “unify its messaging products around concepts like ephemerality and encryption”(The Verge).
But why is this relevant?
It the light of today’s digital environment events, counting what’s app security breach as the most recent, the privacy-focused approach is now a trend and one that’s going stay, evolve and diversify, going far beyond just social media.
The Data Mining Issue
When it comes to data mining, government is not the only one invested in making sense of your personal data, nor is it the biggest beneficiary. The advertising industry is. And no, this is not just a black mirror scenario. It’s already happening.
Your credit card history can be bought from your bank, monitoring tools can be built-in a lot of devices you are already using on a daily, trackers can be embedded in any web page and are actively extracting data to better understand and adapt to your buying preferences and behavior.
Not saying all trackers are cunningly mining data for obscure reasons. Some of them are simply trying to make your online experience better, faster or more pleasing. Not everybody out there is selling your data to 3rd party advertising agencies banking on your consumption behavior.
We all have a price. A reservation price, at least.
However, in a not so distant future, a lot of what you’re putting out there, your online footprint can and will be used to predict your “reservation price”.
Simply put, the reservation price is the value you are willing to pay in exchange of a good or service. According to Wikipedia, on the demand side the reservation price is the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay; on the supply side, it is the lowest price at which a seller is willing to sell a good or service.
Naturally this value can change constantly and can vary a lot depending on context. Say you just finished your morning pilates, you will naturally be inclined to pay more for the same bottle of water that you can buy at the corner shop later. If enough about your daily routine is known and accessible, you could be faced with customized offerings based on your reservation price for a particular good or service.
If data mining goes at the same rate as today, merchants can and will identify customers before even making the purchase. This tactic is already in use and no longer a secret for flight fares, that may vary depending on your IP geolocation.
Best place to hide is in plain sight. A few strategies to keep yourself out of the loop.
- Get a VPN service for all your devices:
The number one thing you need to get in line with is having a VPN connection. It’s really simple to use and just like that poof! your data travels through an encrypted tunnel, safe from prying eyes and encrypted all the while. You basically need to pay a monthly subscription and rock on. It’s important that you don’t chose a free VPN as free VPN services are sure to get their profits elsewhere and it’s usually on your broadband expense. So avoid using unreliable free services that offer protection, but are in fact jeopardizing it.
Taking hold of your own digital footprint requires savvy, educated users, that know their rights and are not willing to compromise when it comes to their own privacy.
It’s easy to understand why more and more people resort to using a VPN service, rather than letting their information “fly” to unknown servers where they can be stored indefinitely.
2. Clear Cookies
You can look at cookies as clutter, piling up your desk, constantly demanding more and more of your attention or space.
To get around this kind of clutter you can install a cookie cleaner software or use your browser’s incognito mode. it won’t make you untraceable, but it will open a cookie free window.
3. Get an Ad Blocker
a native Safari content blocker entirely supported by its users. You’ll be able to block ads, ad networks, scripts designed to track your activity and many more. Just give it a spin!
4. Go with encrypted messaging Apps
encrypted messaging and voice-calling similar with Telegraph or Wire, as advertising agencies are already using keyword alerts to serve particular ads.