Why Data Privacy in Social Media is Much Ado About Nothing

Photo by malcolm garret from Pexels


by Surbhi Bhatia

I am sure many eyebrows are raised while reading this title, to the extent, it can draw strong negative reactions from advocates of data privacy. However, I truly believe, social media is a tool people use in full awareness to share their views, experiences, opinions, pictures, family updates, career updates and most importantly to network with those who they would not necessarily pick up the phone and call. It bridges the hesitation one would have in reaching out to a friend who they haven’t spoken to in years, or an ex-colleague they want to catch up with.

Here are 6 key reasons why data privacy is a not such a massive issue as it is being played out today:


People are fully aware of what they are sharing on social media and want to be appreciated for it

There are two kinds of people on social media- the ‘Content Creators’ and the ‘Content Consumers’. The first group are typically the content creators, they are extremely active in sharing updates about their personal or professional lives, sharing and re-sharing content and actively engaging on other’s posts. The second group are the content consumers, the passive ‘consumers’ who like to scroll through their feeds and understand what is happening in other’s lives, consuming all the content created by the first group. They comment or ‘engage’ when their interest is piqued, but mostly remain silent spectators. In the first group, people want to have the maximum likes, comments and appreciation, the ones with the most engagement become ‘Influencers’, while the second group derives information, ideas from the first, and mostly become the ‘Followers’. Both these groups are on social media with active accounts with one reason – sharing and consumption of content, and are fully aware that they are either sharing their personal details or are aware that they know the nitty gritties of practically a stranger’s personal life.


Networking on Social Media Helps People Grow Personally and Professionally

Social media is another great refuge when people need help both personally and professionally. Whether it is community support groups for alcoholism, or fighting cancer, or battling depression, people are sharing personal information and experiences to help others in their journey while having an impact through similar stories which people may otherwise may have been deprived of in their close knit family and friends. Similarly, there are professional groups  for seeking opportunities, networking with similar entrepreneurs or sharing interests such as traveling, hiking and diving. Community groups on social media are thriving with information sharing and support for like minded individuals. Here too, personal data is being shared to help others in their respective journeys, while being fully aware of the details that the other person may have access to.


Social Media uses Analytics to Target Relevant Campaigns for Products and Brands You are Otherwise Searching For

This is one issue which a lot of detractors talk about- how social media companies are using personal data to help brands target their ads towards them. First of all, lets step back and think what is wrong with it? Here is a consumer who is active on social media and is looking for interesting products and brands. On the other side is a brand, who is looking for early adopters, smart consumers and is willing to shell out money to aid the discovery process of its brand and products. Once again, people who click on ads and make purchase are not being forced to do so, they are again fully aware of the purchase they are making. In turn, young and old brands alike, benefit from reaching the masses by engaging with the customers. We at, The Mom Store, have also aggressively used social media to engage with our customers on a daily basis, and they are always more than happy to respond.


Every Social Media Tool has Privacy Settings that People Can Choose According to Their Preference

Everyone on social media today has the reins in their account and privacy settings to share as much as they like and consume as much as they need. They can choose to make a Public post, or they can choose to remain within friends or closed groups. If even within their friends group, they want to alienate certain groups or people, they have the ability to do so. Considering all social media platforms ask for a declaration that the user may be above 18 years of age, people who consent to it are adults and are aware of the extent of information they are sharing and are choosing to accept friends, who they know would have access to.


Anyone Can Report Content which is Violent, Profane, Political, or Communal towards any community

It is true that in a large platform with billions of users, content which is religious, political, violent or profane gets shared with the intent to inflict harm on a group of people or communities. All social media portals today have built safeguards to prevent this from happening, whether it is in the form of keywords, blocking certain incendiary profiles and constantly consuming feedback from other consumers who routinely ‘Report’ such content to the tools.


Fear of Third Party Apps Using Information Available on Social Media without Consent

There have been incidents where third party apps have gained access to private information and shared or monetized it without consent of the people. Yes, this can happen, and individuals can be profiled for political or social reasons, but this access has been granted to the third party apps, intentionally or unintentionally by the individual themselves. Every app download requests access to Gallery, to Camera, to Contacts, to Location, to any other information on a user’s personal profile or device and is usually mindlessly ‘Allowed’ due to lack of understanding of the impact it may have. People often sign into third party sites using ‘Social Logins’ providing a plethora of unguarded personal information instead of creating an account which will actually limit information to just an email id and name. Thus, awareness of the fine print, and repercussions of providing personal data so readily is also something that people need to be careful about. At some point, they themselves had unwittingly consented their data to be shared. Social media can create more warnings before people are about to sign in, or share profiles, but finally it is upto them to consent.

Any platform has givers and takers which form the equilibrium of information sharing. If indeed, people wanted to be so private and not share information, they would not be on social media in the first place. The success of the platforms and their consumers that run into billions of people, are proof enough that people find this useful. They want to hear and be heard, they want to like and be liked, and they want to notice and be noticed. Today, the world is small thanks to social media, hardly anyone is a click away, they can choose to connect or respond, or they can decline. The choice is theirs. So, Let’s Keep Calm and Carry On!




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