Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Alberta May
Last updated: May 19, 2019
Instagram begin selling advertising inSeptember 2014 as a way to generate more business and revenue for the company. Afterthis change users of the social networking platform would find an advertisementdirected at them while scrolling through their feed for a product they might beinterested in purchasing, this is done through an algorithmic program in theplatform. The process of knowing this technique isn’t new companies as Caudill andMurphy explain before the internet shopping became popular “They inspectorswatched while buyers pick out strawberries and noted the process parents gothrough to choose a box of cereal. Consumers do not appear concerned about this invasion of privacy; afterall, they are in a public place” (Caudill & Murphy, 2000, p.
7). They further elaborate on this topicthat consumers felt comfortable though monitored, had their anonymity intactbecause they had a choice pay via cash for a product that they wanted. Thisanonymity unfortunately changes when consumers move onto the Internet. Nolonger are their shopping behaviours available only in the aggregate. Instead,individuals are tracked, and information is collected in to big data through machinelearning which is then put in to algorithmic advertisement from purchasingtransactions as they surf through websites (Caudill & Murphy, 2000). Theprivacy concern with this method being applied to internet users is the ways bywhich personal data is collected for one purpose (e.
g. marketing) may be usedfor other sinister purposes and could have Impacts of life choices, prejudicedjob recruitment, maintenance of stereotypes and being wrongly assessed. Instagram’s way of collecting suchdata is identical to its parent company Facebook.
The danger of these algorithmicadvertisements became apparent in 2016, when Olivia Solon, a reporter for TheGuardian newspaper, shared a screenshot to her profile of an email she hadreceived containing threats of rape and murder towards her. (Taken from Olivia Solon Twitterfeed: https://twitter.com/oliviasolon)The company’s algorithms then turnedthe photo into an advertisement on Facebook, it then surfaced to Solon’sFacebook friends as an ‘advertisement’. Putting her at risk and making herobligation for respectful of personal privacy redundant. This situation is butone example of how big data driven by machine learning and AI isn’t the sufficientway of handling personal unnecessary data.
Caudill and Murphy conclude this bysaying “The voluntary nature of compliance is especially important to privacyadvocates, who argue that businesses do not always compete with consumers’ bestinterests in mind; it is more likely that the degree to which a businesscomplies is based more on its own profit objectives” (Caudill & Murphy,2000, p.12).