I took some time out to think about key aspects of how modern day information gathering operations operate now based on my experiences as a developer. The more I though about how modern day surveillance and information gathering could occur now, it became apparent to me how much Social Media has become less geared towards helping people to be social and to share their work. Below are a few notes on troublesome ways that information gathering can be conducted on you and others by exploiting our impulses to share our personality online. I think these measures are important to identify moving forward, so that we're all informed about how much sharing our personal information online can come back to haunt us.
I am not advocating not sharing anything nor fear through this though process. I am advocating the development of awareness of how information can be abused, and hoping that will inspire us all to create better privacy rules and rules for content ownership that protect our ability to be paid and credited for work we do into the future. We surrender so much these days in hopes of creating a better life for ourselves and our families, information misuse and abuse is one of the largest threats to our ability to succeed in the future.
Here are toxic steps that many modern data harvesting (Social Media) platforms use against us as individuals:
1. Create a high value data repository of user info and pictures to verify real-life ID (PII) that can be shared with partners and marketed to private corporations.
2. Limit the reach of users who are trying to promote their business to maximize outreach frustration to encourage ad spending and deeper platform engagement.
3. Cultivate celebrity and sponsored accounts for premium placement to maximize pressure on unsponsored users to compete for attention, also a driver for engagement.
4. Carefully manage controversy via legal & PR means to ensure legal protection of the platform and denial of responsibility.
5. Charge unsponsored users for "tiered" promotional access, algorithms are engineered to assess how much each user is willing/able to pay.
6. Charge celebrities and corporations for promotion and collaboration when it does not promote the platform.
7. Lobby government agencies for regulatory advantage.
8. Carefully filter real time events as they emerge on the platform. Tailor trending topics and content displayed to reflect political alignment, platform image, and goals.
9. Monitor dissent and complaints closely, limit and shape visible responses, limit product updates, and avoid fixes to user-based issues as much as possible. Mute, reduce visibility for, or even possibly ban users based on favorability or controversial value favoring the platform.
10. Carefully curate posts to integrate advertising and related posts together. Remove and de-emphasize post times and dates so older content can be used/resurfaced (strategically) if necessary.
11. Create a highly functional and real time back end dashboard to monitor all aspects of individual users, public and private communication, incidents and events, and system performance.
12. Divert attention from unsponsored (shared) external links accts to platform sponsored content.
13. Share and collect data from user's interactions across other sites, adjust user experiences to promote sponsored ads, content, and political agenda across other (unaffiliated) sites and apps.
14. Promote paywalled content and track access and payments to determine the disposition of users, save data within each profile.
15. Present users with polarizing, controversial, and sexual posts to determine their dispositions, save that data to their profile.
16. Keep user content (which the platform technically does not own) on your platform walled and limit sharing to draw people to your platform.
17. Ensure each user has a different experience so that user experiences and complaints are not consistent enough to gain momentum.
18. Make each user sign End User Agreements that grant free and unpaid use for their content and personal data by the platform without need to disclose usage and sharing of that data to content owners.
19. Sell data gathered on the platform to private companies and individuals, sharing data collected with partner companies to create advantage in targeted marketing, billing, or determining real-time dispositions and affiliations of platform users.
Key steps in creating a toxic data harvesting social media cash cow
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