These platforms allow people to access them supposedly for free, but instead of charging them a fee they require people to give up their personal data. This is then analysed to aggregate people into groups, and to make predictions about their interests and characteristics – primarily so they can use these insights to generate advertising revenue. The report found that the scale of harvesting and monetising of personal data by these platforms is incompatible with people’s right to privacy.https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/11/we-called-out-facebook-and-google-but-need-them
Even though the main calls in the report are to governments and how they must regulate the industry, it behoves us all to look at the roles we play.
At Amnesty, we are just as dependent on these platforms as big corporations, political parties, and local businesses in order to reach, engage and grow our audiences. The pervasive power of these platforms is exactly why Amnesty has brought out a report on them.
What are our options?
We were able to navigate around a complete stranger’s private life without his knowledge, and the immoral, almost voyeuristic nature of what we were doing got our hair standing on end. The alarms, Spotify commands, and public transport inquiries included in the data revealed a lot about the victims’ personal habits, their jobs, and their taste in music. Using these files, it was fairly easy to identify the person involved and his female companion. Weather queries, first names, and even someone’s last name enabled us to quickly zero in on his circle of friends. Public data from Facebook and Twitter rounded out the picture.