I'm not clueless about social media. I like a few of the platforms that are out there, but I am aware that you're just hemorrhaging data all the time if you use them. Up to a point, I'll accept that and I'm ok with it. You exchange your personal information for the ability to use the platform. I get it.
For things that I actually post online, I consider that public information in the same way that I would consider it public if I wore a certain shirt or pair of pants and took a walk outside. Everyone would be able to see what I was wearing. I think that's a helpful way to think about social media. It's generally public, and the information I personally release should be that way. That's not a big deal.
And if social media stayed that way, personally, I'd be fine with it. If it only used the information I personally chose to post, that would be great. It's not that simple though. Instead, social media ends up getting a lot of of other data too. I think all of us reach a point where we just get a little creeped out by it.
My latest example came out of switching from Windows to Xubuntu. A project like that will take a lot of googling when you encounter errors, so I was searching for a lot of computer stuff in general. All of a sudden, the explore page on my Instagram was just full of programming memes. Now to the best of my knowledge, I have never looked up anything related to computer programming on Instagram. When I was looking for actual answers to things, I was on Google the whole time. I needed to get results. I didn't need memes about code.
And yet, there I was a few days later with all these programmer memes that weren't there before. Pure coincidence? It's possible, I suppose. The more likely thing is that Instagram was just reading my search history even though I wasn't searching on there. Ah what a world we live in. Some of the most complex technology we have ever invented, and it's being used to serve up dank computer programmer memes. If anything causes a rogue AI, it's going to be something like that.
My thoughts about our dystopic future aside, it's just incredibly creepy and weird to have Instagram doing stuff like that. It doesn't endear me to the platform in the slightest, and it honestly just seems unnecessary. I guess for my part it's a question like this: how much data does the platform need, and how much is too much to use?
Personally, I don't have a great answer to that. I'm ok with a platform storing anything I post publicly. That's what I would count as data that I have willingly and consciously shared. What I don't really need (or want) is a platform serving up new content based on my searches that were done in a completely different app. I think that's where I draw the line.
But there's another question in there about what drawing the line even means. For me, it doesn't mean getting out of social media entirely. At least for the time being anyway. What it does mean is switching up the apps I use so that they are a little more privacy-focused. That may be about the best thing I can do for now.
For better or worse, social media is probably here to stay. I just wish it would be a little less creepy.