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DATA SHARING AND THIRD PARTIES: The Unbeknown Ménage à Trois



Gone are the days when the internet was only used to upload "duck lips" selfies (remember those...) in the desperate attempt to woo your crush from Psych101. Well, I take that back, that still happens, albeit not as often. The point being, that digital media channels are no longer restricted to teens and young college students, with everyone and their grandparents and even dogs (true story) hopping on the bandwagon.

Social media itself has undergone a facelift and a half, with the technological giant, Facebook Inc., taking the lead and ushering in a new era for social media channels as multi-faceted players. Everything ranging from news stories to memes and recipes to stock market info is available on the 2017 version of social media. Not only can you watch news on Snapchat and Facebook instead of ABC, but also express your disappointment to the Customer Service team at McDonalds about the happy meal that was not so happy for you. The idea behind this, I am guessing, is to make the particular social media website or app your “one stop shop” for everything; driving up membership, ratings and eventually net worth.

Now for the record, there is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoy not having to switch back and forth between apps and having everything in one place. It is neater. That being said, we must not forget that all this advent also exposes us to a whole new world of legal vulnerabilities.

But how do they make money?!

Always a good option to read the fine print to see what you actually share.

With social media channels becoming an integral part of our daily routine, the race to become the best content provider is real. Competition is seeing everyone going above and beyond to not only to show you engaging stories, but also to provide you "relevant" content. Have you ever wanted to buy a pair of headphones online and coincidentally, ads and coupons by Bose start popping up on your Facebook and Google feeds? Is this the ever so common "new car effect"? Are you merely noticing these now? Or is there more to it?

Sharing identifying and other information with third parties is an excellent tool from a marketing point of view. Facebook, Instagram, pretty much every social media app you use, and even Coles and Flybuys share your information with others. As a matter of fact, Flybuys recently revealed that customers' information was shared with parties located overseas, such information may include "transaction history and buying habits". Even credit agency Veda Advantage was investigated for selling information to third parties.

But the law surely can't let this happen, can it? Well, essentially, Australian privacy acts only cover "personal information". Anything beyond that is outside the scope of protection. If you have ever paid attention to the Terms & Conditions page before signing up for any online service, things would be a little more clear (I have made it my life goal to meet an individual who read one of these things..).

For those who are not concerned by this, well and good. Customized, tailored ads and targeted advertising may very well work for some of us. Hey, sometimes I even end up getting a good bargain on those sneakers I searched for once, all while browsing my Insta feed. For others, a little research into how to opt out and revoke consent for social media third party information sharing may be well worth the read.


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