A black screen with neon-green coding rapidly running across it. Conveying how fast data can be calculated with just a single click of the mouse.

Data Collection: Where does it end?

We’ve all been on a social media platform, scrolling with no end in sight. When all of a sudden you come upon a post (picture or video) relative to something you’ve consumed or searched.

Panic quickly ensues – “how did they know I’ve been rewatching ‘New Girl’ nonstop?”. Thoughts rush in about deleting all social media and just living off the grid. But the question we never bother to look into is how social media platforms know our interests.

How It Begins

Data collection is a simple action that begins at the very moment an electronic device is put to use. From search engines to watching Netflix, every detail is put into storage, working to create a personalized web. This is how streaming services like Netflix are able to provide accurate recommendations relative to what was previously watched.

This collection of data coincides with the advertisements you can find all over social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. If you were to scroll through any platform, 3 advertisements of items that might spark an interest can be found. Not only do the advertisements target the user, but also the posts you’ll be able to view. On TikTok, a video-streaming social media platform, the application collects data on what posts you’ve liked. That data is then used to curate a page entirely based on your interests, becoming a never ending cycle of data collection.

Privacy Within the Web

In relation to digital writing or social media platforms, privacy is hard to locate. It’s a detail many forget about when posting their whole lives online. There’s no door to shut to refrain others from taking things into their own hands.

Best said by Lindsey C. Kim in “Understanding and Maintaining Your Privacy When Writing with Digital Technologies,” no matter how small anyone tries to keep their access to electronic devices, privacy remains nonexistent.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With the way the internet continues to evolve, it gets harder to manage the amount of privacy we can attain. It also becomes harder to educate people on the safe usage of the internet, as new applications launch, capturing the eyes of younger generations. New social media platforms are viewed as entertainment, but hidden from visible eyes is the amount of data that is stored on each user.

There are people willing to educate on the dangers of data collection and how to limit such. Social media creators and college professors alike. Both want to spread more knowledge on the protection while using the internet. Companies continue to invent programs trying to help Web users build that boundary between the internet and their lives. But are they truly helpful in protecting us from becoming mere collections of data?


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