Opting Out Mechanisms: A Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn Case Study

A study was done by P Cloud on which applications share most of your data with third parties for marketing purposes. The study was based on Apple Inc.’s new requirement that applications must disclose to their consumers how they use their data and with whom they share their data. The study set out to find which applications collect most of your information and share the same with third parties for marketing purposes. The study found that Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn share the most data with third parties. With each sharing over 50% of your data with third parties.

Instagram takes the lead sharing about 79% of the data they collect with third parties. Instagram collects the following data: your purchases, location, contact information, contacts, user content, search history, browsing history, identifiers, usage data, diagnostics, and financial information.

This is followed by Facebook which shares about 59% of the data they collect with third parties. Facebook collects the following data: your purchases, location, contact information, contacts, user content, usage data, diagnostics, and financial information. Instagram is owned by Facebook.

LinkedIn which is owned by Microsoft Corporation shares 50% of the data they collect with third parties. LinkedIn collects the following data: your purchases, location, contact information, user content, search history, identifiers, and usage data.

According to the principles set out in the Kenya Data Protection Act under Section 25. Data processors and Data Controllers are required to processes the data subject’s data in accordance with the right to privacy, they should also process the data in a lawful, fair and transparent manner, collect the data for explicit, specified, and legitimate purposes, and not further processed in a manner incompatible with those purposes; the data collected should be adequate, relevant, limited to what is necessary for relation to the purposes for which it is processed.

In light of these principles and the study by P Cloud, the author of this article and a user of these applications looked at the information and mechanisms provided by these three applications; regarding how one can opt out from having their data shared with third parties for marketing purposes or any other purpose. The options available, were based from the authors interactions with the applications and the opt out mechanisms provided to them by the three applications.

Opting Out Mechanisms

Instagram

In relation to the three applications, Instagram offers the least control and opt-out mechanisms in terms of how much data third parties can access a data subjects’ data for marketing purposes. This control option can be found in the settings tab though, by default, Instagram sets your preference to allow them to share your data with third parties.

The only control Instagram offers is that one can choose whether Instagram can use data from its partners to show you personalized Ads. However, they are quick to give a caveat that it does not change the number of Ads that you view. They also state that you will see targeted ads based on data from your activities on Instagram. They may also show you ads based on information from a specific business that has shared a list of individuals or devices with Instagram if they match your profile to the information on that list.

Facebook

Facebook, the world’s largest social media site offers a number of options and opt-out mechanisms for its data subjects when it comes to controlling how third parties use the data. These controls can also be found in the settings tab. By default, Facebook sets your preference to allow them to share your data with third parties.

The first option which is similar to the one offered on Instagram, Facebook allows you to opt out from seeing ads based on your activity off Facebook. However, they are quick to point out that even if you turn off this setting, the ads you see may still be based on your activity on the Facebook platform. They may also be based on information from a specific business that has shared a list of individuals or devices with Facebook if they match your profile to information on that list.

Secondly, you can choose to opt out from seeing ads by third-party advertisers who choose to show their ads to certain audiences. When using Facebook, you may see ads because an advertiser has included you in an audience based on your information or Off-Facebook activity. Advertisers can use or upload a list of information that they can match to your profile to show or exclude you from seeing certain ads. You can also be included in an audience based on your interactions with an advertiser’s website, app, or store. Facebook allows you to view the advertisers whose audiences you have been included in. This is based on your information or activity. One can therefore decide whether Facebook can show you ads based on this data or you can opt-out of receiving targeted adverts from these advertisers. However, you have to go through each advertiser and opt out as there is no general disable option.

Lastly, Facebook allows you to opt out from seeing ads off Facebook Company Products. Facebook can show you ads off of Facebook Company Products, such as on non-Facebook websites and apps that use their advertising services. Like with ads on Facebook, advertisers can select categories of people who they want to see their ads off Facebook. Some of these categories are based on people’s information or activity on Facebook Company Products.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest social site for professionals. It offers a number of options and opt-out mechanisms when controlling how third parties use your data. These controls can be found in the settings tab. By default, LinkedIn sets your preference to allow them to share your data with third parties.

Under the data privacy tab, one can review the data they have provided to third parties for example you can see whom you shared your data with when applying for a job via LinkedIn. One can also opt-out of LinkedIn sharing your data with third-party partners for social, economic, and workplace research.

Further, LinkedIn allows the user to choose how they want their data to be shared by third parties. You can opt-out of LinkedIn using your data from your activities off LinkedIn being used to show you relevant ads. A data subject can opt out of allowing LinkedIn to gather audience insights from the websites you visit.

LinkedIn allows you to opt-out of your data being used anonymously by third-party websites you visit to help them better understand their audiences. They also allow you to opt out of seeing relevant ads on websites and apps outside of LinkedIn. They also allow you to opt out of seeing relevant ads based on the information shared with the business. Lastly, you can opt out of LinkedIn using your interactions with ads to understand and report aggregate ad performance.

Conclusion

We live in a world where data is king and privacy has been given a back seat. However in the words of the late Steve Jobs when asked about privacy, he stated that privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly. People are smart and some people want to share more than others. Therefore ask them, ask them every time until they request that you stop asking, and let them know precisely what you are doing with their data.


Tevin Gitonga is a Member of the HiA Network, an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a policy associate at KICTANET.

(This article was originally published on KICTANET)

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