Bots and Trolls and Data Breaches! Oh My!

Social media has definitely seen better days. Despite my deep concern of the overall addiction to social media in the early 2000’s, I invested my time and life into learning the ins and outs of its landscape. Its potential was unimaginable, its power to connect and build communities could change the way we live. Unfortunately, people who are powered by greed were the first to truly utilize its potential to disrupt the world.

The Plague

Over the past 10 years, there have been a number of digital scandals. Sony’s big data breach in 2011, the 2017 Equifax hack that left 143 million users vulnerable, to the interference of the 2016 presidential election. I am deeming these years as the first digital plague.

Social media in the past year saw:

Just like in 1300’s, when the black plague started to spread due to the world getting smaller from the capabilities of overseas trading, social media brought us even closer and left us vulnerable. Our time, energy, and information were all piled in a single location that was open and easily accessible by anyone in the world.

Cambridge Analytica was the tipping point. Privacy and data regulations will be the number one concern for businesses moving forward. Tech CEO’s need to figure out how to safely collect data, marketers need to find a way to safely utilize this data and the public needs to understand the benefits of data sharin

The Light

All and all, I’m happy with the current landscape. Data collection and utilization, in my opinion, is the future. The less we fight it, the better our lives can be. You think working in the digital realm would change your mind about the whole idea of sharing your information. Especially, that marketers get to see every way in which we are being tracked; from pixels to location data.

Data collection should not be feared, its use in our day to day lives has no limits, its implementation has already begun.

Some prime examples of how data collection makes your lives easier.

Google Maps

Google Maps tracks everywhere you go unless you turn it off. Why would you want to though? This feature allows the application to suggest alternative routes, it notifies you when there is a transit delay and helps empower small businesses by prompting you to review and/or submit a photo of your experience. It also tracks the number of visitors in a specific location, which in return tells you the busiest and average wait time.

One simple search provides you with multiple locations near you and a top-level report of each one.

All of this is for free

Google Search

What do you love? Are you a football lover? A car enthusiast? Maybe a celebrity news junkie? Google search helps users find their information with ease, from suggested and related searches to past and relevant entries. All of these are powered by your user data.


This is how most of the apps you use on a daily basis are paid for. Facebook gives users the ability to connect with anyone and anything. All you have to do is allow it to collect your basic user information so they can sell relevant ad space and continue to innovate its platform.

You're being delivered ads that are relevant, ads that you may actually take action on and a lot of the time ads that deliver you val

Personalized Entertainment

Netflix and Spotify are the big players in this category. Both of these services collect data, a lot of it in fact. By collecting your data, they are able to deliver you personalised entertainment recommendations. In the meantime, they get to understand the industry and user behaviour to continue to provide relevant services.

Some interesting insights for music lovers.

Digital Assistants

I’m not just talking about Siri and Cortana, but voice overall. Google Home brings the power of Google into your living space. Amazon continues to reinvent shopping while pivoting easy online purchases with Alexa. Digital assistants, VOICE, will revolutionise the home. It takes all of the data points from above and compresses it to make your life easy. Delivering news that you find important, reminding you of your appointments and daily plans, and allowing you to order Ubers and pizza with a simple request.

Data Drives Innovation

The simplest example would be the Starbucks app. It allows you to pre-order drinks, collects membership points, and prompts you with promotions. The data they collect from this app allows the business to take large strides towards innovation. By providing insights like foot traffic per location, most sought-after drinks, typical time of purchase, seasonality of their consumers and various other data points, Starbucks gets a deep insight into their consumer which allows them to make data-driven changes.

Moving Forward

This being said, the Cambridge Analytica incident was a breach of trust and a lack of action from the platform. Moving forward, all platforms will need to be extremely vigilant with the information they collect. We are already seeing changes being implemented to keep the online community safe and I am excited to see what innovation lays ahead.

Further reading, digital privacy updates: