*Data Firms Are Harvesting – and Selling – Your Social Media Profiles

TechViews News   …..

By now most people are aware that companies are harvesting their personal, private data from their emails, texts, videos, and social website profiles.

In particular, your public social media profiles—including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn—are being harvested and resold by large consumer data companies.

A recent Congressional inquiry revealed that some companies record — and then resell — your screen names, web site addresses, interests, hometown and professional history, and how many friends or followers you have.

Some companies also collect and analyze information about users’ “tweets, posts, comments, likes, shares, and recommendations,” according to Epsilon, a consumer data company.

Many people think their lives aren’t worth recording, they simply say, “so what? everyone is watching?” But what’s cringe worthy is that we’re talking about an industry that brags about largely “operated in the shadows.”

“Posting to Facebook should not also mean putting personal information into the hands of data reapers seeking to profit from details of consumers’ personal lives,” Massachusetts Rep. Edward J. Markey told ProPublica in an e-mailed statement.

“Users of social media want to share with friends, not enable the sale of their personal information to data miners.”

Acxiom, one of the nation’s largest consumer data companies, has said that it collects personal information regardless if the person is a heavy or light social media user.

Acxiom also tracks whether individuals “engage in social media activities such as signing onto fan pages or posting or viewing YouTube videos.”

Intelius, which offers everything from a reverse phone number look up to an employee screening service, said it also collects information from Blogspot, WordPress, MySpace, and YouTube.

This information includes individual email addresses and screen names, web site addresses, interests, and professional history, Intelius said. It offers a “Social Network Search” on its website that allows you to enter someone’s name and see a record of social media URLs for that person.

Epsilon, a consumer data company that works with catalog and retail companies, said that it may use information about social media users’ “names, ages, genders, hometown locations, languages, and a numbers of social connections (e.g., friends or followers).”

It also works with information about “user interactions,” like what people tweet, post, share, recommend, or “like.”

“We continue to collaborate with the U.S. government and federal agencies to help broaden the understanding of our business practices and the enormous value that the industry creates for individuals and businesses alike. As such, we advocate for a conversation that balances privacy considerations as well as the benefits of the appropriate use of data,” Acxiom CEO Scott Howe said in an e-mailed statement.

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!

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