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What type of data does Social Media harvest?

October 21, 2020 No Comments

Featured article by Habiba Nasir, Independent Technology Author

It seems like everywhere we turn, social media apps are becoming increasingly popular. The average individual spends hours a day looking at their various platforms. But with the sharing and interacting we do online, a question of data collection needs to be considered. After all, once we’ve put the information into cyberspace, what does it get used for?

Uncovering Shared Social Media Information

Using a platform like is a great place to uncover the level of social media currently accessible online. Background check websites will collect and gather any social media accounts connected to the individual and compile them into a complete report. You’ll be able to monitor and track any accounts registered to your name, birthday, email address, and more.

While almost every individual will hold at least one social media account, understanding what is shared and accessible is a key area for online safety. After all, the last thing we need is a potential risk of data sharing with the wrong person.

What type of information is shared?

While each individual platform is targeted differently, data scraping is a form of collecting public information and compiling that data for alternate purposes. Things like full names, interactions online, account usage, phone numbers, and search history are often compiled for research purposes. Likewise, more popular websites will show screen names, email addresses, interests, and professional history.

Although this information may seem harmless, there are always concerns about online safety and account security. Names, genders, hometown details, and social connections can provide more than enough details to put an account in jeopardy for hacking or phishing. Likewise, email lists are often sold to third-party contacts looking to promote their products or services.

Email lists aren’t the only piece of information being compiled. For some major companies, the analysis the data provides can help give analytic insight; giving a competitive advantage over the competition. As a result, your information may be used in ways you never intended – without your knowledge.

How to combat data scraping?

It is always a wise idea to limit the amount of personal information being publicly shared on social media platforms. This includes any information shared privately, as accounts will often have terminology that allows data collection. For major social media sites, keeping things generic in your profile will help prevent collection and sharing of your details. Creating a “burner email account,” that is, an account you only use for social media platforms, can limit the amount of junk mail received through your main account.

If you are posting your content publicly, never share anything that could contain identifiable details like your first pet name or street address. Even posts that include your birthday can set you up for identity theft. All an individual needs are the name, birthday, and another piece of identifying information to potentially ruin your credit history.

Choose Social Media Networks Carefully

Not all social media networks are created equally when it comes to data scraping. All platforms should have specific terms and conditions for data collection and sharing, listed clearly on their website. Take the time to read through the account conditions before hitting the accept button.

Some popular networks indicate the sharing and ownership of posts, details, and photos—which may enable them to use your profile for advertising purposes. Professional networks will often compile employment details and contact information to match with potential job opportunities as well. While this may be the intended purpose of the platform, it’s not always the easiest to remove yourself from a temp agency if they add you to their potential contact list.

Finally, be aware of the impact social media may have on things like potential employment offers. As many companies are turning to background checks for validation of your credentials, social media profiles may appear in the report. Things like photographs and posts should be limited to professional and tasteful images. Anything shared online should always be considered carefully, especially if you’re trying to secure a profession dealing with the public or vulnerable sections of society.

While many would agree that a person’s personal life should remain private, sharing images into a public domain will ultimately become a matter of consideration at the time of employment offers. Likewise, remember that anything you post could potentially be connected to your employer’s brand or image. Many individuals have been terminated from their employment for sharing or posting something on their timeline that goes against company core values.

Author Habiba Nasir
Author Bio: With a passion for writing on diverse and challenging niches, she aims to explore more depth of words to define the unexplored worlds.
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