Dear Farillio Expert: Is there a way we can stop social media exploiting our data? The Media Psychologist, Charlotte Armitage tells us how.

5 min read

Friday 23 Jul 21

Dear Farillio member,

On 27th April 2021, you asked our brilliant expert Charlotte Armitage on the Go Far Fast Show:

“Social media gains a lot of data on us and it seems like it constantly adapts to what we respond to best. I think for some people it almost feels like they're being exploited by their own data because it's being used to target them. Are there things we can do to better control or prevent this?”

And Charlotte said:

Be mighty always, Farillio


“You can go into the settings of your social media account, and there are so many things that you can prevent it from doing. However, you can't really control what a social media platform does especially if you signed up and agreed to the terms and conditions. What you can control is how you use it and what you do with it. It's about controlling your own behaviours and your own responses to social media, and how you utilise those platforms. That's the only way I can see that you can control it because the algorithms do you work in a certain way. They are very complex and are designed to exploit.

Exploit seems like a very negative word, but I think that's what it's designed for. It's designed to identify what a person visits most and what kind of things they like. It will keep showing more content along those lines so that you stay on the platform for longer and they could charge more for advertising. In a nutshell, this is how it works. Can't really control that because that is the purpose of it. From a social media developer’s perspective, that's what they're doing. Obviously, we are innocently interacting on there with our friends and our families and sharing videos that we enjoy. We can't necessarily control how our data will be used but we can up privacy settings to the absolute maximum. That's the practical thing to do.

It comes back to you being responsible and accountable for your own actions and behaviour when it comes to interacting with social media. I think that we have to take that responsibility and say ‘okay, I'm not really comfortable with my data being used on these platforms therefore I'm going to come off them’. We can't control what they're doing we can only control what we're doing. I think it's also a case of thinking about what you put on and what you post. Just be more mindful, because you can scroll through and see things without interacting with them. You can be mindful and if you can educate yourself around that side of things it will help with the data aspect of it.”

Ask your question:

If you have any questions that you'd like us to ask in a future Go Far Fast Show, send us a DM on Twitter or on LinkedIn. We'd love to hear from you!

Want more from Charlotte?

You can also find Charlotte’s answers to other questions being asked by you and your community in our Dear Farillio Expert section on our blog site, and Charlotte’s great guidance on social media and mental health here. Download the full podcast here.

Please note: The contents of this blog are not tailored business advice or legal advice. This is guidance and information, which we do our best to keep current, relevant and helpful. If you need business or legal advice, please use our Speak To An Adviser service or you can get in touch via our LiveChat.

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