On Medium: ‘Facebook, Feminism, And The Weaponisation Of Data On The Modern Front Line’ (Excerpt)

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An excerpt from my piece, published on Medium: ‘Facebook, Feminism, And The Weaponisation Of Data On The Modern Front Line’

“I have an app on my phone that tracks my menstrual cycle. As a woman with additional health issues, this is very useful for my overall health management. It gives me a ‘big picture’ that allows for planning, as well as providing reassurance, and a sense of control — of being in the driver’s seat of my own well-being.

The app that I downloaded is the basic, free version of a bigger, developing piece of software, though. The whole thing has a very detailed, comprehensive privacy policy, but for just a small monthly fee, users can upgrade to the premium version, which allows for an even greater range of predictions — an option I would imagine is particularly useful for those struggling with fertility issues. In addition, there is the promise that such monthly payments support this company’s important research into women’s reproductive health.

But — despite the attraction of financially supporting research into a woefully under-funded area in women’s health — I choose to remain at the basic, free, ‘anonymous user’ level, because I am hyper-vigilant about data pertaining to my health as a woman; because the concern in the back of my mind is that one minute I’ll be blithely logging mood swings and breast tenderness into this calendar app, and the next I’ll be Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale. All it takes is for the data to be used by the wrong people, for a radical agenda and in that context, aren’t these privacy policies — packed out with legalese and data protection buzzwords — really just a leap of faith?

It sounds incredibly paranoid, I’m sure — but the point is, if we take a look at the actual world we live in right now, this is not so far-fetched. Facebook just proved exactly that, to the whole world. This social media platform — originally conceived to humiliate women on U.S college campuses — has grown exponentially to be a globally influential enterprise. It has penetrated most nations and — as of the first quarter of 2018 — it has over 2.2 billion active users, spread around the world.

So when such a social media platform becomes entangled with an organisation like Cambridge Analytica, it becomes a very big problem. It becomes a potential tool for manipulating the outcomes of referendums and elections – which impact the lives of entire populations…”

Read more at https://medium.com/@sjmyles79

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