TED Talk: “The Curly Fry Conundrum: Why Social Media “Likes” Say More Than You Might Think”

In case you didn’t already know, everything you do on the internet is tracked and recorded as data about you. Data is taken from your various social media pages, email, recently visited and frequently visited websites, and then used to predict things about your personality and interests. Your data is then sold to companies to “sell” it back to you through product advertisements that you see everyday. Remember that one time you went on some bizarre foreign website looking for a cheaper version of an Anthropology romper that you loved so much? The internet remembers that one time, considers it one of your “likes,” and tries to “sell” it back to you through advertisements on the sidebar of your websites. THAT is why that one bizarre website that you visited one time keeps reappearing all over.

Social media has changed so much since the beginning of it’s time. It used to only consist of posts from organizations and tech-savvy individuals, and now anyone and everyone uses the internet in a fully immersive and interactive way. The internet is more powerful than you may think, it’s able to provide companies with data that is considered private to the user. Users have little control over how companies use the data that they provide through the internet. For example, there was an article in Forbes magazine that a young woman was sent a Target flyer with coupons for baby related products, 2 weeks before she went public with her pregnancy. Target collected this woman’s data, and recognized certain (but unobvious) trends; such as an increase in vitamin purchases, or buying a purse large enough to carry diapers. Target used the data trends to advertise and sell their baby related products to her to meet her relevant needs.

Facebook is one of the top internet data suppliers to companies. Certain Facebook page “likes” indicate a higher level of intelligence than others. One example, if you like a certain page for Curly Fries, you’re more likely to have a higher IQ. How does this happen? Let’s say that you’re a person of an especially high intelligence. Your friends are probably also smart, and you also probably have similar interests. If you like the curly fries page, your friends may like the Curly Fry page. Then THEIR friends will like the Curly Fry page, and so on.

Often times you may “like” something; but it may be completely irrelevant to your data based on the assumptions made off of the page, skewing your own data and the information provided to you based off of your data. The future will more than likely consist of this tactic in an even more intense way, unless we set forth policies saying “our information is OUR information, we own it.” Or as another way of managing your internet data footprint, you can learn to only “like” things relevant or necessary to you.




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