How Tech Companies Manipulate the Media

How Tech Companies Manipulate the Media

We’ve seen the tech industry take over our lives. They’ve taken over our homes, our work, and now they are taking over the media. 

It seems like it is time for us to fight back against their control of the public sphere. But how?  It turns out there are a number of ways that we can push back against this manipulation on behalf of these companies with just a little bit more information about what they are doing to us. 

I want to share some of my thoughts on how you can be better prepared when dealing with tech companies in the future based on some research I have done recently. 

Let me start off by saying that social media platforms have been probably one of the most powerful tools at their disposal. 

Facebook, Google+, Twitter- they’ve all got the bandwidth and the data storage capabilities to record every little thing that you do online. You’re probably thinking- so what? I have nothing to hide! 

That might be true but it doesn’t mean that your privacy isn’t important or that these companies should be allowed to hold your information. I’m not going to get into the norms concerning privacy on social media networks because there are already plenty of people talking about it. 

What I’m more interested in however is how companies use this data to manipulate us. Tech blogs and news sites have been publishing a lot of articles recently that talk about how companies use this data.

These articles are all focused on Facebook, Google, and Twitter but that’s only because they have some of the biggest troves of user data. I think it is safe to assume however that these techniques are used across other social media platforms as well- especially when you look at the monetization tactics that are used.

This is where I would like to introduce you to some of the common techniques social media companies use to manipulate users and advertisers into spending money;

Targeted Advertising

This is one of the most popular forms of advertisement these days and both tech blogs and news sites have been talking about it at length. The basic idea is that companies use these massive databases to target specific groups of people with their ads. 

For example, if you frequently visit sports blogs then you will see a lot of sporting products advertised on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. This isn’t something new-in fact targeted advertising has been used for decades for advertisers to send messages directly to the most receptive audiences. 

What has changed however is the scale at which this can be done and the amount of precision that these companies are able to do it with.

Manipulating User Behavior Through Algorithms

This is probably one of the most powerful tools in a company’s arsenal- the ability to influence user behavior through algorithms in real-time. Facebook has been recently in the news for supposedly changing their News Feed algorithm to influence user behavior. 

Now I’m not going to get into whether they actually did this or not- there are plenty of headlines and articles that you can read up on if you want more information on this subject. What I will say is that Facebook does have the power to do this and it wouldn’t be too hard for them at all given the type of data that they store after users like yourself give it to them.

Selling Your Personal Data

This might sound very strange but tech companies do offer a method for advertisers to purchase your personal data from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Each company has its own method for doing this and it can be pretty tough to find out where exactly your data is being sold.

This article will help you understand how to go about finding out what information you have given to companies like Facebook and Google by reading their privacy policies.

You might not feel very comfortable with some of what I’ve just told you but the truth is that it is all very legal- at least in the USA. 

The laws surrounding these activities are still very murky so I would definitely recommend that if you do choose to use these sites then you should read up on their Privacy Policies and Terms Of Service before using them. 

It might sound pretty boring but trust me when I say that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you think.

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