(Image from: Google)
It has come to our knowledge that the amount of our personal information social media companies possess goes deeper than we think, and with such keen interest on our private information, it has intrigued us to think what they would and could do with all these information. Out of 3 billion active internet users, 2.1 billion have accounts on the various social media platforms, more notably Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. For each one of us, after getting the basic information (such as email, first and last name, etc), each social media platform has a different, more unique set of follow-up questions to know us better. Furthermore, our activities on these social media platforms are closely observed to infer behavioural characteristics and patterns. Just imagine the amount and depth of information stored in these companies’s database. I’m sure they wouldn’t let these precious information sit idly in their virtual storeroom, but what exactly do they do with it, we’d never be completely sure.
In this age where even businesses move over to the digital world to make money, and where they rely on the quality and quantity of consumer’s information, social media companies database are in such high demands. It makes it easy for the ethical boundaries to be blurred and our private space threatened.
It has become a growing ethical issue that companies are selling private information collected on consumers to third party business (or government) without consumer’s direct consent. For example, with all the information Facebook had collected on its users till 2015, they privately sell it to a growing fashion blogshop where they use it as a shortcut to attracting and retaining customers. Even though there has been debates around this topic, justifying this in the name of harmless consumer marketing or even, National Security, the bottom line is still this: Large companies are making money out of YOUR private information to which you have no consent of. Not to mention, you are not given a slice of the pie.
As our private information are being traded in the digital world, we can move on to talk about why it’s important to keep private information, private and why privacy is important. As quoted from TED: Why Privacy Matters, CEO of Google – the largest search engine system used – answered: “If you’re doing something you don’t want other people to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”. Corporate leaders are likely to provide answers in an attempt to brush away the pressing concern, but ignores how hypocritical it sounds.
By trading and making businesses out of your customer’s private information, it has seriously violated the trust between your consumer and you. No matter how much control you have, companies should abide to ethical guidelines and place importance on human morals.
CBS News. 2013. The Data Brokers: Selling Your Personal Information. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/data-brokers-selling-personal-information-60-minutes/. [Accessed 09 November 15].
Jeff Bullas. 2014. 33 Social Media Facts and Statistics you should know in 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.jeffbullas.com/2015/04/08/33-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2015/. [Accessed 09 November 15].
Forbes. 2011. Facebook’s Privacy Issues Are Even Deeper Than We Knew. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2011/08/08/facebooks-privacy-issues-are-even-deeper-than-we-knew/. [Accessed 09 November 15].
Forbes. 2011. Ethics and the Five Deadly Sins of Social Media. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2011/11/03/ethics-and-the-5-deadly-sins-of-social-media/. [Accessed 09 November 15].
TED Talks. 2014. Glenn Greenwald: Why Privacy Matters. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters#t-182500. [Accessed 09 November 15].