The maximum number of characters a person can put in a Tweet is 280. A message this short is no more than a quick, effortless thought. However, something surprisingly more effortless is what comes after that: pressing the “send” button. A mere movement of your thumb seems so simple. In fact, it is almost instinctive. But what exactly happens when you push that button?
Of course, when you make a post, whether it be on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, it gains a lot of traction. In an instant, your post went from being a thought in your brain, into something tangible that the rest of the world can see. Your post can then be liked or shared, which then extends its reach even farther. Still, it does not end there. The social media platforms themselves gather your data in order to monetize it. The application that you considered “free” was actually profiting off of you all along and without your consent… or so you think.
Upon registering for an account on any social media platform, you are met with the all-too-familiar “Terms of Service” page. While it seems like unimportant information, or at least not worth reading for hours on-end, it actually explicitly states that your data will be both collected and used by the company. When your data is collected, it is then used to show certain advertisements that appeal to your interests. If you follow accounts regarding clothing brands, there is a high chance you will get ads for those same brands. Despite all this, however, there are ways that this can be mitigated.
Firstly, you could opt-out of certain policies that social media platforms have, such as those that use your data to send you targeted advertisements. Additionally, you could utilize Redact in order to stop your post from spreading to every crevice of the Internet. While this will not necessarily delete your data, it will remove it from the public eye, ultimately keeping your information much more secure. By taking these measures, you will be able to effectively protect and monitor your digital footprint.
What was once considered so effortless that it could be comparable to breathing is actually so devastating and fast spreading that it may as well be considered a wildfire.