Originally published and still available on Dataconomy (14/10/14).
Can you imagine a world without smartphones? In this day and age, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. One of the reasons for this is how profoundly we rely on apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name but a few. These apps connect us with friends, family or even strangers, be they across the globe or around the corner via a variety of novelty mediums.
To tap into such services, users must first sign up. The pesky asterisk deems your full name, email, date of birth as compulsory information, but also often gender, a ZIP/postal code, address, phone number and – if you are using a subscription service – bank card details. This is easily enough information to create a sketchy profile on any individual – and that is before you start using their service. When that begins, you will be, whether you realise it or not, voluntarily offering the company snippets into your day to day life, primarily intended for people you actually know.
Facebook is a prime example; as a website and app that boasts approximately 1.28bn users (as of June 2014), it has developed from an idea into a corporate giant. Of that total, 802 million people log into Facebook daily with 556m accessing Facebook via their smartphone or tablet and 189m of those being “mobile only” users. Every 60 seconds, 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 photos are uploaded.
Interestingly, however, each time you log into Facebook, share content, or publish a Tweet, the information you offer is being processed, logged and recorded. How do you think “Trending Topics” are created, or recommendations on who to follow next are so accurate? Such information reveals what users find popular (or unpopular), and – as most free apps are fuelled by advertising – offers you similar content in an attempt to urge you to part from the cash in your wallet.
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