disadvantages of digital footprint

The Role Of User Data In A Social Media Revolution

Social media networks have become our primary sources of entertainment. With already a firm grasp over our social lives, their influence rose exponentially during the quarantine. While most internet users watch YouTube and use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to socialize, the emergence of TikTok has revolutionized the social media landscape.

The algorithm generating the feed, also known as the “For you” page presents information based on your interests, location, and other parts of user data. TikTok is extremely good at keeping users engaged and even addicted. Even other social media platforms implement their inspired versions of short videos that could just as well be treated as copies of the same product.

TikTok has been a fun distraction during quarantine – and it really took off. Just like FaceApp, it’s an exciting app that became trendy on social media. The concern now is how they’re treating your data – both have raised concerns and have been called threats to national security. The platform that keeps bombarding the human brain with fresh entertainment with a swipe of a finger has millions of users engaged, and it creates a perfect distraction from the unethical treatment of user data.

Because TikTok is owned by a Chinese company ByteDance, the advocates for humane technology see the platform as a massive privacy threat due to China’s relentless pursuit of mass surveillance. That being said, if you are an active user of TikTok, should you be concerned? Are the threats of these apps recognized too late?

In this article, we will examine examples of unsettling user tracking behind the apps such as TikTok and FaceApp. We will discuss the actions companies and even countries take against these platforms, and what a private user like you can do to minimize tracking. For example, if you feel uncomfortable with the presentation of videos from your local region, you can use residential proxies to change your location and skew your digital footprint.

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A residential proxy can be a great web privacy tool, and the rise in demand for such services shows the desire for security and anonymity from internet users. Smartproxy is a legitimate proxy server provider with great blog articles about potential privacy threats and how proxies help us avoid them. Let’s analyze the role of user data in the revolution of social media services.

Security concerns affecting businesses and governments

During the pandemic, potential privacy risks from TikTok and FaceApp have affected large companies and their personnel. Both financial services company Wells Fargo and American multinational tech giant Amazon have encouraged their employees to delete the TikTok app from their mobile devices. Even though companies did not state specific threats to user data, the distrust surrounding the company and its ties to China has forced the company to take action to regain the trust of its users. TikTok ensures that non-Chinese user data cannot be stored in China nor is it subject to China’s law.

Around the world, the usage of TikTok and FaceApp apps is often strongly discouraged for politicians and government officials. However, there are cases where motives for negative publicity are political attacks against China. Big neighboring countries like India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have used temporary blocks and warnings to eliminate or discourage usage of the app. Even the former US President Trump proposed to ban TikTok due to potential national security threats.

Should you be concerned?

After all these accusations, should you be concerned about your data on these platforms? The reality of a private user of social media networks is unfortunate. Not just TikTok, but tech giants like Google and Facebook already utilize our information for financial gains. The appealing content format tracks your video completion rate, liked videos, hashtags, and used songs. For new users, geolocation extracted from your IP address helps the algorithm supply you with local, perhaps familiar content.

The days of internet privacy are over. Most internet users are dependent on social media networks and see no trouble trading personal information for convenience. Because these services are available for free, companies treat information as a form of payment, turning users into products.

Reduce your digital footprint

Even if complete privacy is unachievable, some tools help us reduce tracking on the web. User-agents contained in data packets show receivers your browser version and operating system. Along with them, residential proxies allow web users to transmit their data packets through an intermediary server in any location around the world.

disadvantages of digital footprint

Proxy providers supply clients with a large pool of IP addresses to give different options for network identity changes. While a random IP will already make your connection to the web more private, some local addresses will help you access geo-blocked websites that otherwise would not be available in your region.

Using proxy servers is a great way to protect your browsing experience, but they have little to no effect if you connect to TikTok and other social media platforms through a registered account. The only way to truly protect user data in a social media revolution is to break the cycle and quit using these platforms.

Salman Zafar

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