7:00 A.M. I woke up and immediately checked my phone on the nightstand. I had a notification from Instagram. By allowing notifications to pop up with a banner for this app, I am allowing them to control how much I use the app by notifying me when someone interacts with one of my posts or comments. I am also bringing them to the forefront of my attention. Facebook owns Instagram so by doing this, I am giving Facebook information regarding interests of mine including fashion, art, people I am connected to, etc. In this instance, I follow mulitple thrifted clothing accounts and I had bid on a sweater in the comments. The account notified me that I had been outbid and so I had a choice to bid higher or buy it at the price they listed. Through this information, I am letting Facebook know my price ranges for certain products on the internet, but I am also giving them insight to my social interests which are sustainability through shopping on thrifting sites and the types of brands I gravitate toward as well as my sizes because I only bid and buy items that are my size of course. All of this information is extremely valuable to them to sell to data brokers. I then checked my Google Calendar to see if I had anything going on which is linked to my Google account which holds a plethroa of information, through the Calendar app I am giving them information about what my day/week/month consists of and what events I am attending or interests I have based on those events. I am also giving them direct insight into where I will be at these times in the day. In addition, I checked the Petfinder website because I am currently searching to adopt a dog in the near future. To login I have linked it with my Google email, so not only did I use Google to search for the Petfinder website, but I also am giving them further access into my specific preferences by allowing them to patrol my saved searches on the website into what kind of dog I am looking for, which is all more information that could be sold to data brokers.
10:00 A.M. I went on TikTok and interacted with mulitiple accounts on my For You page as well as my Following page. I do not have notifications set up for TikTok anymore, but I still go on it everyday without the app reminding me to. Contents of my TikTok For You page are directly connected to an algorithm that shows me content based on accounts and videos I have liked before. It also tracks how long I stay on specific videos that tracks how long a video held my attention and will then show me more videos with similar content and will especially show me more if I like or comment on the video. Below is a video of an example of what my For You page looks like and it is different every day, but mainly shows me videos relating to fashion, makeup, pets, relationships, travel, food, etc. all of which are things I am interested in. Imbedded in the algorithm, every few videos posted by individuals, I will get a sponsored video that is directly paid for by a company to market their products. Sometimes I don’t even realize it is sponsored content because I am scrolling so quickly and liking things so fast, that I don’t even notice that I interacted with that type of content.
11:00 A.M. I went on Spotify to access my music playlists and listened to music while I got ready for a while. My Spotify account is linked to my Facebook account so I am giving Facebook more valuable information into what artists I listen to and the genres of music I most enjoy. This is something a data broker could use to promote a singer’s concert tickets to me or show me an ad to check out their newest album. I also checked the weather at this time giving Google access to my location.
12:00 P.M. I turned on the T.V. and we don’t have cable so we instead watch T.V. using our Amazon Fire Stick. Through this I have access to Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+ and other television streaming apps. Our Amazon Fire Stick is linked to my boyfriend’s Amazon account, so by turning on the T.V. I am giving Amazon insight into what we watch and the types of shows/movies to recommend to us. We noticed sometimes we accidentally press the speaker button on the Fire Stick remote which turns on a microphone in the remote to activate Alexa, but it doesn’t turn off unless we click the button again. So, that could be listening to our conversations without us realizing it at times and therefore is gaining more insight into the kinds of things we talk about.
1:00 P.M. I went back on Facebook to check groups. I am specifically following a lot of corgi rescue organizations because that is the type of breed I am interested in adopting and because they are such sought after dogs, I am following about 5 different groups dedicated to U.S. corgis and interacting with people with dogs for adoption in California. This has made it so I am being constantly fed information about where to find Corgis in California and Facebook has access to this information and will refer me to recommended groups with the same objective.
3:00 P.M. I went into town and my mom and I went to brunch at one of our favorite diner restaurants in town and I showed her pictures on my phone that I took of my cats.
4:00 P.M. Just an hour after we left the restaurant I got a notification from Google maps asking me to rate the restaurant we were just at. Google had access to my location and knew I was at the restaurant even without me directly telling it where I was.
5:00 P.M. I went back to Instagram to check out all the new clothes that had dropped that day by the thrifting accounts I follow. I liked and followed about 10 new accounts that other accounts I follow had posted on their story to help promote their small business.
6:00 P.M. Turned the T.V. back on using the Amazon Fire Stick and scrolled through movies on the Disney+ app that I had seen before, but decided I didn’t want to watch them. I pay for our Disney+ subscription which I am logged in using my Gmail account. They also bill me monthly, so they have direct access to my payment information. I then used Snapchat to message my friend about an outfit I was planning on for our trip to Disneyland in May of this year. So, I then went to Poshmark to look for that specific dress and used Google to search the internet for similar dresses. I then went to Netflix to and was recommended a silly dating show which I watched for the next hour, but it was recommended to me because Netflix knows which shows I am insterested in and not interested in and based on the algorithm gives me a percentage match of how much I will like a show.
10:00 P.M. I went on TikTok once more and liked videos that my friend had sent me adding to the algorithms data base of information about interests that I have and also shared interests that my friend and I have. Then I put my phone down and went to bed.
What a day! This exercise definitely made me hyperaware of the times I went on my phone and how long I spent on each app. It was a lot, and I became super aware of how much information I was giving out and that is also, a lot. They make it so easy to link accounts, so when you sign up for something it will say create account using email and password OR by logging into your Facebook or Gmail account and I have fallen into that trap because it just makes it that much easier for scammers and hackers to access my account, but also gives Facebook and Google just another layer of control over the type of data I am just giving out…for free in my case but not in their case because it is valuable data that is being sold to their marketing teams and groups to promote more surveillance capitalism in regards to the ads I recieve that are tailored to fit me and my interests, needs and wants. I realized that no matter what I do on my phone nothing will be private because I am just an open book in Facebook and Google’s eyes in regards to the type information I am just allowing them access to by using those accounts to create other accounts and it just goes on and on. But it is also just so much easier to be automatically logged onto a site that I frequent regularly instead of typing in a new email and password every time. I also realized I need to be updating these passwords on a weekly or monthly basis to prevent getting hacked. I need to utilize tools like password manager, two-factor authentication, and getting rid of old accounts I don’t use anymore that have old passwords and information stored in them. In this Wired article, it gives people the tools they need to better secure their information online which I will definitely be implementing in my social media experience. The question I keep asking myself is, okay, so I am giving out all this information that enriches surveillance capitalism, but what can I do to make sure this information isn’t being used in a harmful manner? Should we really be breaking up these monopolies or regulating them? In an article by the Columbia Journalism Review, author and freedom-of-information activist Cory Doctorow, says “It’s just that I think that regulations that have high compliance costs primarily work to benefit monopolies, who can afford the costs, and who can treat those costs as a moat that prevents new firms from entering the market. Better to focus on the structural problems that have led to the creation of these giant companies in the first place,” Doctorow also says stopping mergers like Facebook buying Instagram also needs to be illegal to make sure they aren’t completely overpowering the market. Breaking up these monopolies is essential so that these congolmerates like Facebook, Google and Amazon don’t hold all the power in the world to control how our data is used and who has access to it.