Last updated on May 6, 2020
The two social media platform giants Facebook and Twitter don’t just maintain an online presence. They own and administer a large archive of collected data through their platforms. Although using social media to attract new users, engage with their audience and present a good brand online is important, it is just a few ways that these corporations use social media. Using data analysis against the information they collect provides an edge for analytics revenue. It’s entirely different than the way we use and relate to social media.
What are they collecting on the user?
At Facebook and Twitter, their social media platform is THE interface to Big Data analytics. Through a myriad of avenues such as mobile and desktop technologies, they are constantly collecting new information on you; with every profile update, every post, every comment, etc. In regard to Facebook, they collect everything from your name, sex, orientation, political affiliation, friends, login internet addresses, to your phone number. Twitter even captures the geo-location of your tweets. Through their platforms and how they integrate with the rest of the internet leaves with them data on people that don’t even have an account in some cases.
No matter what side of the privacy rights dialog you’re on, it’s just a matter of fact that these corporations are collecting enormous data sets against their user’s usage of their social media platform. With every new feature they implement, it’s a potential to collect even more data to sell.
Using Big Data for big profit
They do use their data analytics to help improve their brand, progress the platform, to support a new artificial intelligence feature or ad placement. These companies also leverage their public data sets for a profit though. Twitter and Facebook also provide a public application programming interface (API) to the public. This allows access to the data consumer an unimaginably large data set for users to query against. Data consumers have been able to use Twitter to even locate and track people with flu symptoms and food poisoning.
For the most part, private data is censored from these APIs to guard against privacy rights issues. However, Facebook has been criticized in the past for accidentally revealing highly sensitive data such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, political views, personality traits, intelligence, parental separation, age, and gender through a personality quiz app.
But that’s not my “personal” personal data.
You may have locked down your profiles like Fort Knox but these companies still use and collect your data. Although there may be privacy scandals that surface that keep them honest, there is nothing that stops Facebook or Twitter from using your personal information for their own future market predictions, feature usage analytics, sales algorithm, and even more.
Like the law, your personal data will be used against you. No matter what, it will be used. For a friend suggestion, for a group or app suggestion, for ad placement and in case of this recent Covid-19 pandemic, to potentially track you if you are infected with the virus.
This is a means to an end
With Facebook and Twitter, social media is a means to an end. They use social media and they are social media. While being a social media platform, they seek to increase usage to increase data that can be harvested against the set to increase their revenues. And with Big Data, new revenue streams can come online all the time for these companies to seek profits from. There is a server somewhere with your personal data on it. Is it being protected as you thought, I leave that up for you to decide.