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3 Ways That Social Media Knows You Better Than Your Friends and Family Do

Its comes as no secret that technology has changed the way that we live our lives. It hasn’t only made communication easier, but it has also positively influenced the dating field, sharing, streaming (television shows) education and much more.

But what if I were to tell you that emerging technology has the ability to predict our personalities and essentially know more about you than your friends and family do…Well it does!

Now, in the advancing world of big data, media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other big companies have the ability to collect information about you. This data is collected through your device, google searches, and things you like and post, that can help to determine “hidden attributes about you that you didn’t even know you were sharing information about” according to Jennifer Golbeck TED talk entitled Your Social Media “Likes” Expose More Than You Think.

Data Collection: So How Exactly Does This Work:

Media platforms allow for users to create media accounts where they can provide behavioral, preference, and demographic data about themselves. This data can be collected from the things you post, like, accept or search about through your devices. Big data companies and scientist, then collect this data and build personas about you that can determine your age and gender, what you like and much more.

Essentially, big data companies are creating computer-based personalities based on information collected from your devices, that end up knowing more about you than your family and friends do.

To prove this, I will discuss the 3 ways social media invades your privacy to stay a step ahead of you, your family and your friends.

3 Ways That Social Media Knows You Better Than Your Friends and Family Do:

Knows Your Friends

Social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have the ability to keep up with your friendships. As scary as it sounds, by monitoring your statuses, relationships and activities updates, media applications can predict who your close friends are.

But these media platforms also have the capability of finding the friends you should add to your networks. So how exactly is that done? Unless you pay attention to the terms of agreement when first creating your account, you might have missed the request to access your phone and email contacts. Facebook, according to the Washington Post, specifically request your permission with this as a way to scan your contacts to find similar users on your social media sites.

Knows Your Interest

How often have you logged into Facebook or opened your web browser and seen ads for your favorite band or the power tools that you need to finish your house renovations? Pretty often right. But why?

Media platforms have this really weird ability to track user’s behavior and browsing history. By tracking users Facebook, Instagram and Twitter likes, as well as google searches, media platforms and networks are able to generate a general idea of what your interest are.

Knows Your Latest Moves – Where You’re Traveling

By using the location services provided by your device, media platforms can know where you are at all times. By using your devices location data, different media platforms can market cafes, stores and even friends that are in your area.

Is this invasion of Privacy Creepy or Harmless?

With this information I know you’re probably questioning your usage of media.

By approving your devices and media platforms to have access to specific information, such as your location and visited sites, they can essentially have insight into your daily life routines, friends and your interest.  But is this type of data collection and sharing a violation of privacy?

According to the Harvard Law Journal published by Samuel Warren in 1890, each person is entitled to full protection in terms of person and property. With emerging media platforms continuing to appear every day, the idea of privacy invasion by these platforms is becoming more prominent.

With our devices and social media platforms collecting our personal data and using it to determine who we are and what to market to you, we have to begin to question when data collection is crossing the line. Some Americans believe that media platforms use of “spying” on our digital footprint is harmless if it provides a better user experiences. While others believe this type of “digital spying” is absurd and creepy.

What’s Your View?

As we can see, the algorithms that are being used in today’s social media platforms are being used to created computed-based personalities of its users. How media’s usage of digital spying is completely generated by its users.

I have created a survey below to gather information on how users perceive “digital spying”.

Please comment, like, share and take the survey so that we can keep this conversation going!


Ciara Wake, Graduate Student

Master of Arts in Emerging Media

Loyola University Maryland