In an age in which technology has made information at our fingertips, the possibilities seem endless. Yet, on the flip side of the coin, this same technology has demonstrated that it can predict and evolve to see what an individual will do. In the groundbreaking documentary known as ‘The Social Dilemma,’ social media intends to make it addicting and impossible to live without having it around. A smartphone that does not work is the equivalent of somewhat of a panic. Many of us use our phones, social media, and all of them to go about our lives. And through that, the information that is projecting from our phones that feeds into the algorithm? The result is that as long as someone keeps scrolling, keeps giving personal data to the algorithm, and more is sinister. It may seem like something out of a dystopian science fiction tale, but the truth is always beneath the surface, despite what the creators of the very addicting apps may say. At the rate democracies without protections to protect the populace, misinformation is being spread faster than a cat video, which leads to unfortunate consequences of democracy falling victim to and resulting in the rise of dictators. Most of us don’t believe that would ever happen to us, yet, the past few years have shown us—information is a more valuable currency than money itself.
If your information is more important than money, why isn’t it regulated the way money is to protect against counterfeits? It is thanks to the misinformation campaign by social media outlets that claim they are doing everything in their power to fix the “bugs.” Therefore, since they are the ones to create the product, they should be responsible for your information, personal data, and privacy protection. Yet, in 2018, over two billion accounts have gotten hacked, calculating that by about six million accounts getting hacked per day. Having your identity is stolen, and any personal information out there leaves you, the consumer, vulnerable to such attacks. It falls to you to protect your data, not the companies that hold that information. Or, at least in the United States, it does. The European Union is one of the few governing bodies that have started to look more deeply at social media companies’ nefarious activity. As a result, it has brought this conversation back into the spotlight.
The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, has been established since 2018 to protect citizens’ data. It has also been used as a way of keeping the spotlight on social media and its practices. The social media industry has called for it to be ‘too restrictive’ since these practices’ founding has shed light on these topics. Through this legislation, companies are held liable and responsible for the very things they promise to uphold. If they do not act accordingly, the GDPR allows for a way to be punished. It’s a reason that social media companies are pushing for this regulation to stay within the European Union. Due to its founding, it is estimated that social media companies have paid over 3 billion dollars in fines since its implementation. Not only that, but companies are required to act with more diligence and must receive consent before using a consumer’s data to how the consumer prefers. As a result, while misinformation is still common in places like the European Union, it has caused the deterioration of democracy to stop. Yet, in parts of the world, social media runs rampant and free.
Still, stuck on what you can do to help? An excellent place to start in all areas is Netflix. Be sure to check out:
- The Social Dilemma – a group of former silicon valley’s creators discusses how social media is implementing new technology, the purpose, and the consequences of it all.
If you want regulation in your country on these issues, reach out to your local, state, and federal representatives. Tell them about this issue. Call every day. Why? Well, your governing representatives have to read every message their constitutions leave. Make sure it is your actual representative.
Protect your data and your right to privacy because only you can claim that right.