How much privacy are we giving up in the name of social media?

Having social media at the ready certainly is convenient. We stay up to date on EVERYTHING; what is happening in the news, the presidential election, what our friends had for dinner the night before, and so much more! But have you ever really sat down and thought about what you are giving up in exchange?

For the sake of ease, let’s focus on Facebook. Facebook outlines what information they collect from us and how they use that information. Can you think of anything else not on this list? I can’t.

Information they collect:
1. Things you do.
2. Information you provide – including what you look at!
3. Things others do that may mention you.
4. Your networks and connections
5. Any payments through their in-app games or donations.
6. Your device.
7. Third-party websites.
8. Third-party partners.

For more on Facebook’s data policy, click here.

Now that they have collected all of your information, what can be done with it? Advertisers are already constantly collecting as much information as they can. Whether they are discovering your purchasing habits, tracking your website visits, etc. but now they can use who you are and find people just like you.

Behavioral target marketing
One way to social media sites is through target marketing and custom audiences. In particular, Facebook’s Lookalike audience feature. All that is required is finding a group of clients, customers, etc (Facebook recommends a minimum of 100 to get the best results) and upload into Facebook as a custom audience. From there, they will go and find people who resemble current customers. And for marketers, it’s working. It was reported that one particular online retailer saw a 56% lower cost-per-fan acquisition cost. This is just one of the many ways our information is being used.

But the question remains, do we as Facebook users care if what we are being exposed to is something that would probably interest us? According to the infograph below, 25% of users don’t bother with privacy settings. At least now, we may have a better understanding as to why certain advertisements are showing up in our news feed.

My best advice is to invest the five minutes it takes to check your privacy settings. Compared to the countless minutes we spend daily after all, what’s another five minutes?




3 thoughts on “How much privacy are we giving up in the name of social media?

  1. Sarah,

    Very informative post! Social media is such a great marketing tool however it’s crazy the amount of trouble one can get in from it as well. For instance, one wrong post can cost someone their job. There is such a thin line between public and private posts that it almost doesn’t exist. Privacy settings make users feel secure but anyone can take a screenshot of a post you made and send it to anyone they want. With employers, they feel as though you are representing them and their brand and take this very seriously. I agree that checking your privacy settings is always a smart idea but would you also agree that paying close attention to what you post on social media is also the way to go as well?


    • Thank you! I agree with you. The line between privacy and public information is becoming a blurred line. To protect ourselves goes much further than the confinements of our privacy settings. How we use social media is also important. We see this becoming more and more important in terms of finding jobs, keeping our jobs and sometimes even more than that! Thanks for the post!


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