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Social profiling

Social profiling

Social profiling definition

Social profiling is collecting and analyzing information from a person’s social media activities to form a detailed profile about them. While it can give valuable insights, especially for businesses, it also raises ethical and security concerns.

See also: digital identity

How social profiling works

  1. Information is gathered from a person’s posts, likes, shares, comments, and other interactions on social media.
  2. Data from different sources (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is combined to give a more complete picture.
  3. Algorithms and analytic tools help identify patterns and preferences. This can reveal details about a person’s habits, interests, beliefs, and relationships.
  4. The analysis leads to a detailed profile or ‘persona.’ It may be used for various purposes, such as marketing, targeted advertising, and research.

Dangers of social profiling

  • Privacy invasion. People tend to be unaware of how much of their personal data is being collected or how it’s being used.
  • Data breaches and misuse. Large databases of profiled information become prime targets for hackers, who then use it for scams or identity theft.
  • Misrepresentation. Algorithms may misinterpret data, leading to incorrect profiling. This can affect offers or opportunities presented to an individual.
  • Echo chambers. Users often see content that matches their beliefs or preferences based on their advertising profiles. This trend limits people’s exposure to diverse ideas.
  • Potential discrimination. Businesses may use profiles to discriminate against individuals based on their online activities or affiliations.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security

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