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Social media tracking: The info apps have about you might surprise you

Do you ever feel like a social media app is reading your thoughts? You thought of something, and before you knew it, you saw it on your feed.

Are social media apps tracking you? [shutterstock]

Social media has become the proverbial big brother." These sites collect vast amounts of user data. Users are blissfully unaware of the extent of this data being tracked and saved by large companies.

Although TikTok has been banned in some countries, it is similar to other social media apps; the only fear is that China might buy the information from TikTok.

Home Security Heroes, a cybersecurity firm, has revealed that social media sites like Threads and Instagram are the worst for personal user privacy, as they gather vast amounts of user data.

According to a study by cloud storage company pCloud, they discovered that Instagram is the most renowned for exposing personal information, with advertisers receiving 79% of users' data. This includes browsing history, location, contacts, and financial details. Facebook follows with 57% of user data supplied to advertisers.

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Social media platforms collect vast amounts of personal information, including what you do everyday, your friends, and interests.

Users consent to this data collection when they sign up for these apps and click on 'I agree' to the long, unintelligible print. Still, in some cases, data has been obtained without consent, such as in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Platforms like Facebook are especially scandalous. They use tracking cookies, browser fingerprinting, geofencing, cross-site tracking, and AI to track users and derive insights into user behaviour.

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  1. Your location 

Your house, preferred destinations like work, school, and business, and favourite places to go. If enabled, it tracks your current location, including the location of a photo or the creation date.

2. Your personal information

This includes your name, age, email address, job, education, relationship status, religious and political views, and health data.

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3. Contacts

This includes phone numbers you saved, call logs, and SMS history.

4. Social interactions

This includes things like posts, likes, shares, followers, hashtags, content consumption, and platform interactions.

5. Financial information

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If you’ve ever bought anything from a social media app, then you know they’ve got your credit or debit card number, payment details, billing, shipping, and contact details. An example is paying for a verification.

Facebook and other social media sites use user data to sell to companies and third parties for targeted advertising. This information helps advertisers measure the effectiveness of their ads and services, understand user behaviour, and understand their preferences.

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