Social media has considerably evolved since the MySpace days. Let’s be honest I probably still have an account out there somewhere. Today, our social media has the power to give us friend suggestions, topic suggestions, and news feeds based on our own interests and behaviors. Facebook can even now predict rather accurately when our face pops up in a friend’s picture by using data from the pixels your face uses. Luckily this is limited to only friends you accept but it could be potentially turned on globally.
This may not seem all that bad one way or another. But what if Facebook began being able to learn specifics about your behavior, for example how hard of a worker you are, and whether you’re a high insurance risk individuals.
How would you feel if that information were being sold to potential employers and insurance agencies? (It probably is right now!)
To be certain, these new technologies and data processors may make life more convenient in some respects. We may get more advertisements that matter to us, more information and friends that go along with our interests, and the convenience of things and programs around you that know what you like and are looking for.
But it is possible that our information may be used as too much of a commodity. Already, social media typically sells user information to companies who are then able to do high-order assessment of opinion, sway, momentum and interest in certain products and services.
There are perhaps no easy answers to the dilemma. Algorithms have allowed us to make decision based on a higher order thinking that we couldn’t have as reliably made. There are certain benefits they certainly bring to the table.
But do we really want algorithms which reveal sensitive information about our behaviors and hobbies to be sold to companies and advertisers so the can tell me a more effective story? That’s debatable to many people. Perhaps there is a middle ground which can be reached that allows us a code of ethics when it comes to using these powerful tools.
I think as humans we are rewarded for breaking the mold. But if we are constantly being fed the same ads, information and insight based on our rhythms, then how can we break from this? We are being taught, neigh conditioned to think more like machines and less like humans!