When Social Media Becomes A Multi-Million Pound Propaganda Machine
The dangerous combination of social media and politics has created a rift between platforms and it's users... but what is the solution?
Social media giant; Facebook inc comes under scrutiny for it's ties to controversial PR company Cambridge Analytica, amongst others, and for the harvesting of personal data for political campaigns, without user consent. This 'breach of privacy' scandal is just the latest backlash towards the way social media platforms use it's audience's data.
The reality is, we know that nothing is ever truly free. Apps will let you use them in exchange for siphoning your data: contacts, app history, photos, location etc. It's actually quite scary how much information is being extracted from users every single day. The data business is a huge money maker for such platforms; as a result, our information appears to be sold to the highest bidders.
The lack of responsibility shown in how our data is treated, makes one question just how secure and safe are these systems? Especially when you consider all the 'data breaches' and cyberhacking that has occured over the last few years... could this be a cover something more nefarious that's taking place behind the scenes? Is it possible that some of these hacking announcements are merely PR ploys acting as cover stories for the mass transference of personal information? It makes you wonder...
We know we can't rely on corporations to protect our identities and personal data, so what options do we have in order to protect ourselves? Here are a few suggestions:
Only post and share information that you have no qualms with complete strangers knowing. Whether or not your profiles are set to private and only contain contacts you know personally and very well is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to this issue.
Don't broadcast your private matters on social media. Not only will your entire contact list know all about your personal affairs, employees, contractors, partners and clients will gain access to certain aspects of this information for advertising purposes, political agendas and potentially much more.
Go through your settings, usually there is a dedicated section for privacy. Go through the options and see where you can limit the access as much as possible. While this won't stop a platforms ability to obtain and sell that information, it will prove that it was done completely illegally and against the consent of the user - no grey areas there.
Don't rely on information being shared via Facebook - do your own research. That doesn't mean just relying on current reports from mainstream sources and 'fact checking' on Snopes. In order to understand the agendas of those benefit from social and political division, you have to be prepared to dig and piece together evidence from numerous sources relating to events over a significant time scale.
A lot of celebrities have suddenly become politically vocal on social media, in part just to be relevant. Such public figures are often endorsing specific organisations or party members due to financial or social affiliations behind the scenes. Again - not a sound source of information.
Both the political and social arenas have become somewhat of a ridiculous spectacle. While not so long ago, I was the first to vocalise my outrage on the heinous actions of world leaders and their lackeys, nowadays I realise that I was shouting into the wind. It's almost pointless. People have to come to their conclusions and be willing to take action to hold individuals and corporations accountable for their crimes.
It is imperative that entrepreneurs and start-ups with innovative solutions to various world issues, come forward and make their dream a reality. There are some inspiring brands doing phenomenal philanthropic and sustainability work across the globe. We can begin to change things by supporting such businesses and stop wasting our time, money and effort on the corporations that do all of us harm.
As for social platforms, while the executives do need to be held accountable for these actions, it's also up to us - the users, to be smart about the information we share and interact with on them.
Written by Brenda Adiyiah for Burn the Night
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