Tracking DataEditTracking data that companies are taking from users is important so users are not taken advantage of. The majority of websites on the Internet implement search bubbles to personalize the information shown to users based off of what they believe they want to see. There are many ways that users can break these search bubbles, however not all users want to take the steps to break these bubbles.
Search For Yourself Edit
One of the quickest ways to determine what information has been taken about a user is to search their name, email and phone number and see what is returned. This is a basic way to track information that has been taken. By using search engines such as Google users will see a sample set of information that is on the World Wide Web about them. Services are available which will perform detailed searches to find desired users. By paying a fee users will be able to find out information about themselves that they might be unaware that is public. Service such as the Free Public Search Directory will show users that meet a criteria and then allow users to find personal details for a fee. Many websites will hold information that can not be seen as web cookies will store the information.
Influence the Data EditInstead of trying to remove data, another way users can affect the data that is being kept of them is to alter what can be seen. Services such as BrandYourself, creates websites which will provide information about users that they want to be known, while making information that is not desirable harder to find. BrandYourself and other services will offer users with suggestions and inform users of the type of data that is going to be taken about them. This will allow the data that is taken to be what the user desires. Many services suggest the user to delete their social media accounts, or to not put information on them. Having the information on their accounts, even if set to private, does not protect the information as many companies can still access that information, even if it is not seen to the general public.
Looking Towards the Future Edit
On May 2, 2011, Eli Pariser gave a TED Talk introducing the idea of the search bubble. Six years later Facebook addressed the topic and announced that they were starting to work on editing their filters which determine what headlines to show to users. This came after the United States Presidential Election were many sites and news outlets did not show both perspectives and many citizens were shocked by the result. The European Parliament also announced that they were going to inform citizens of information taken from social media. This increased awareness will allow users to know what information about them is being taken and allow them to control and track that information easier.