DAY 7: WHO DO THEY THINK YOU ARE?
Facebook and Google have profiles set up based on who they think you are in order to sell you to advertisers, and you can access these profiles by heading to your Ad Preferences. Google knows how old I am and that’s about it (or so it seems). Facebook also doesn’t know me as well as I thought it would; I inexplicably work for healthcare and medical services and I’m also allegedly into car racing and first-person shooter games. It does, however, correctly know about all the devices I own and thinks I’m an early technology adopter and ‘engaged shopper’.
This helps Facebook know what to advertise to you – that’s why when you update Facebook on milestones in your life, whether it’s a new job, new partner, new baby – you’re telling them that your spending habits are about to change.
There’s something darker about this data collection, however. Psychometric profiling uses this data to gauge how you might vote or feel about certain members of society. Facebook has allowed advertisers to reach ‘Jew Haters’ or exclude users by race. In 2016, car insurer Admiral worked on an app to predict people’s driving styles by how many exclamation marks they used.
Maybe it’s wise to think a little bit longer next time you tap ‘I agree’?
DAY 8: CREATING A NEW YOU
If you don’t want to get data bloated again, the Detox suggests setting weekly or monthly goals for yourself. You could have reminders to change your passwords, clear your browsing history and assess your social media use. They also offer a list of alternative apps to use, or splitting up email accounts for the different parts of your digital life.
Those who want to try the Data Detox for themselves can find the programme here. “Try to get your friends and family on board,” says the Detox. “It’s a crucial part of making your new digital lifestyle work, and their actions online matter. Every time they tag you, mention you or upload data about you, it adds to your data build-up, no matter how conscientious you’ve been.”
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