Facebook and the other social platforms are the leading news item almost daily right now. We thought we'd look at our changing relationship with Social Media and have asked some guest bloggers from different demographics to give us their thoughts. We kick off with Lily, a 22 year old English Literature graduate. Take it away Lily...
Social media has become a daily part of our lives, especially to members of younger generations such as myself. But after the Cambridge Analytica scandal – in which data was extracted from the Facebook profiles of 50 million users by a third-party app and sold to Cambridge Analytica, who then allegedly used it to deliver pro-Trump and Brexit material to unsuspecting Facebook users who had already been profiled – can we trust social media with our information?
I grew up using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as a teenager, and I think because of that it did not surprise me that the data we share on these platforms is not always so private. However, that’s not to say that I agree that we should surrender our privacy in exchange for use of a free service.
While social media initially seemed like a space in which to share thoughts and engage with others, it now appears to be a method of data extraction, which is then sold to the highest bidder and utilized to sway our political opinions. It has become apparent that our online privacy is inherently vulnerable, and we need to educate ourselves on our online privacy as well as the information that we share and consume through social media.
Many people, myself included, not only depend on social media platforms for information and news, but also for social engagement and communication. It’s easy to forget that the material we share online isn’t always private, but it shouldn’t mean that we forfeit our right to that data. However, it isn’t feasible for everyone to simply delete all social media platforms. It is important to understand the ways in which our own personal data can be used as a weapon against us, therefore it is vital to think about not only the information that we share online, but also the information that we consume through social media.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has made me rethink the ways in which I use social media, and indeed the information that I engage with online. For me, the importance of this scandal is that it has shed light on the nature of social media, on how much of our information these platforms possess, and the ways in which they choose to utilize that information. I don’t think we should boycott the use of social media; instead I think we should alter the ways in which we interact with it and be critical of the information we consume from its sources. Hopefully, this will lead to a clearer and less extortive change in the management of social media and its data.