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Social Media Data. Or, "Oops they did it again."

Last week at their annual developer conference, Facebook did two things: they admitted they are using
Disruptors Handbook
Social Media Data. Or, "Oops they did it again."
By Disruptors Handbook • Issue #95 • View online
Last week at their annual developer conference, Facebook did two things:
  1. they admitted they are using billions of instagram photos posted to the social media platform to train artificial intelligence engines to effectively moderate FB posts; and 
  2. they announced added functionality for Facebook in the form of a dating site.
Mark Zuckerberg noted that there were 200 million users on Facebook who list their relationship status as ‘single’, and that he felt that there was, “clearly something to do here”. As one of the friends of the Disruptors suggested on twitter last week, one of the things he could do is leave those people alone. But this is social media, and apparently leaving people alone is not an option, nor is respecting as a form of expression, information shared on social media platforms like Facebook.
Then last Friday, twitter announced that a 'glitch’ meant that passwords had been exposed as a plain text file. (So change your passwords now, if you have not already done so.)
After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, you’d think that social media data would be better protected, or that at least the custodians of our public data would be doing more to ensure its protection. But the reality is that data is being shared - accidentally, maliciously, or even in a misguided attempt to add value - with regular abandon in the social media sphere.  Even nearly-bankrupt Cambridge Analytica itself hasn’t really gone away. It’s just rebranded
Now this isn’t news as such. We’ve observed the gradual decline of personal privacy for years, and social media will continue to explore new ways to capitalize on personal data in the name of convenience or influence. But while the platforms certainly have a role in protecting user data, it is crucial that users understand their own responsibilities for personal data protection. 
In response to the recent case of the Golden State killer, identified through genetic markers traced through a family member’s DNA profile which had been uploaded to an open source database, some of the best commentary noted that in making our own private DNA data public, we are implicitly invading the privacy of our families. The same goes for social media. It may not be quite as devastating as a DNA record, but when we participate and share data about ourselves, it can be easier to track down those closest to us. 
Caution in social media behaviour may limit convenience. But it might just prevent us from unnecessarily repeating the perhaps prescient lines from Brittany Spears:
But to lose all my senses
That is just so typically me
Oh baby, oh baby…. Oh. 

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