Unit 7: 02 – Project Treatment: (Original)

Are We the Product? – A documentary on Social media and Data collection

This has been changed since due to the impact of Covid19 making this not possible anymore. For the updated post please visit:

It’s the 21st century. Over 4.78 people in the world have access to a mobile device. That’s around half the world’s population, and out of them, 2.45 billion are monthly users of Facebook, 1 billion are monthly users of Instagram (owned by Facebook), Over 2 billion android phones which make for a marketing platform for Google, over 3.5 billion google searches daily and 34% of the world are on Microsoft’s Windows.

This is alarming as we are trusting these companies with so much data and not many have the best intentions or privacy policies, for example Google, which collects data on everything we do, everywhere we go, how long we use applications, our searches, websites we visit, purchases, videos we watch, sports teams we follow, who we interact with and so much more. A lot of this is used to improve their products such as Gmail, YouTube, Android etc. but in the end, Google are an ad company first. Their main revenue is from selling you ads. In 2018 alone, Google made 116.32 alone in ad revenue!

I want to look at the history of privacy from when the internet first began and how it has changed as the internet has evolved and more companies look to collect more data on us as well as mobile devices and how they effected the landscape. I also aim to bring light to this as well as explore the deeper implications of this data being collected on us as well as letting people know the alternatives as well as explaining the negative impacts of giving up so much of our data and trusting these companies as much as we do. I also aim to investigate social media addiction and how it is designed in order to keep us hooked and make it so we’re the product being consumed and not the other way about as well as how dopamine works and how social media, notifications, likes etc are designed to trigger dopamine.

Personally, Identifiable information is all the traits which helps connect you to the data which collected on you. is only useful when attached to YOU!  It can include things such as your Biometrics, Voiceprint, Social security number and more. This goes through a process to anonymizes the data so it can be sold and then eventually come back around to identify you. I want to interview people in Derry as well as foreigners who have come from different companies to see if they know what data privacy is and if they feel like social media is addicting as well as if they see advertisements across the web which target their likes and wants as well as their usage on Facebook.

To achieve this, I’m going to do research into how our data is used by these giant corporations as well as how our data has been misused, e.g. The Facebook analytic scandal and explain how this impacts us. I also hope to explain how our data can be misused in the wrong hands and how we can be taken advantage of, hacked or have our bank details or personal details stolen. I will be watching various documentaries such as “The Power of Privacy” By The Guardian, “The Great Hack” Directed by Karim Amer & Jehane Noujaim as well as doing research on various sites and articles who interview various experts in the industry as well as past employees of these companies on how and what our data is used for as well as the design behind social media and why it is so addicting. Facebook Shadow Profiles and how everyone, even unborn babies have a Facebook profile, even if a person never plans on using it. How they build a profile on people over time and gather information and personal data.

Services and software as a service have been hugely popular so I aim to look into the various services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Adobe and the various services they offer and how Netflix and it’s cheap access to thousands of shows and movies differs from Adobe who sells creative products which cost a lot more as well as are constantly developed and updated.’

We’re in a world filled with applications, web and mobile, where these apps request various permissions most of us will most likely glance over. I Want to bring this to people’s attention and how dangerous this can be. Why should a game have permission to access my personal photos? Why should Facebook be allowed constant location access while the app isn’t being used? Etc.

I also hope to interview a hacker or professional In the industry to figure out what they can do with data as well as how easy it is to build a portfolio and collect a profile on us in today’s industry. I want to achieve this in an easy to understand manner that most people can understand as well as target it towards all ages, especially younger teenagers, especially 18 year old and up as 18-64 is the most common demographic and the biggest age group on Facebook.

In the end I will be offering ways in which people can easily protect their data such as monetizing their own data as well as offering ways to secure it as well as offering more secure and extreme alternatives which won’t be as easy but will offer the best security and privacy for their data as well as companies who still respect data and privacy such as Apple, Purism, System76 and services offered which protect our data. I will end by summing up all my research and answer the question if we really are the products for these huge companies and if we’re the ones being used and sold instead.

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