How does “The Social Dilemma” documentary discuss the algorithms used to target ads and encourage user behavior?

“The most important documentary of our time.”

Netlfix’s The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma highlights the many issues within our society today and its use of social media. It focuses on how big social media companies manipulate their users with the use of algorithims that keep their users coming back and even sometimes result in addiction. It also focuses on how these big name companies are using our personal data to target their users through the use of ads.

It portrays the collection of our data with a fictional vignette of a personified algorithm (fictionalized as a team of people) who follows a male teenager throughout the movie and tracks every little thing going on his life. They describe the use of algorithms with this model, saying that companies watch every move you make online and note it, from the music you listen to and even if you stop on a picture for just five seconds. They then take this data and use it against you to get you to keep interacting on their app(s) or site.

What is Data Privacy?

Data privacy also referred to as, data protection, refers to the collection of personal data to be widely dispersed throughout technology, the public and the legal and political issues surrounding it.”

Life after The Social Dilemma

Many people are changing the way they use social media or how often after watching the Netflix Documentary. Although, being able to completely delete yourself from the online world is impossible at this point as all of your data is already out there. The documentary recommends tips to cut back on your data sharing from now on.

  • Use a VPN whenever you’re online.

Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), hides your IP address so that when using the VPN it becomes the source of your data, meaning other third parties are not able to easily access your data and track you.

  • Cut back on data sharing.

They suggest turning off notifications for these social media apps so they are no longer able to grasp your attention at any moment once you’re off the app and cut back on tracking what you are doing.

Apple added a new future into their iOS 14.5 update called ATT (App Tracking Transparency), this requires mobile app publishers to ask for permission for tracking and accessing device identifiers, such as The Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA) that are assigned to iOS devices. The IDFA are responsible for giving advertisers and app owners the ability to anonymously identify and collect information about the usage of the phone whilst a user interacts with advertising. The ATT changes the way IDFA works by asking users if they want to be tracked. With the new update, when these apps ask if you like to share your data or be tracked, an Apple user can now simply press no or control blocking sharing IDFA identifiers in their phone’s Privacy settings.

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However, these IDFA changes do that prevent companies from still tracking you through cookies or pixels based upon the links you click or even hover over, lessening the time you spend on these apps will prevent that.

  • Do not use free Wifi’s.

Using free public Wifi’s leave you susceptible to hackers. Since these Wifi’s require no authentication process it makes it easier for hackers to get unrestrained access to unrestricted devices that are on the same network. This makes it easier for hackers to wedge themselves between you and the network point. Therefore, you are sending your data to this hacker rather than the connection point.

Overall, the best thing to do is to restrict your privacy settings and limit your time spent online to protect your data and possible addiction to these apps. Many companies such as Apple offer screen times where you can restrict the time you spend on social media apps yourself.

Even with all of these issues, the United States still lacks a single, unified data privacy law. It is ones job on their own to protect their data, their privacy, and how know how their info is being shared.

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