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What GDPR Means for Your Social Media Privacy

What GDPR Means for Your Social Media Privacy

What GDPR Means for Your Social Media Privacy


By now, you’ve likely heard of the GDPR (General Data Protection Rules), the sweeping data protection rules enacted by the EU. While these rules are primarily designed to protect the personal information of individuals located within the European Union, given the global nature of the internet - and social media in particular - the new regulations are having an impact on U.S. businesses and online users. 

At the heart of the GDPR is the protection of individual personal data and giving individuals more control over how their information is collected and reported. In short, any online entity that collects information that could potentially identify an individual (including an IP address) is bound under these rules and must have explicit user permission to collect and store any of this type of information or otherwise face steep fines.

For most U.S. users, these new regulations are taking the form of updated privacy policies and notices on the sites that they visit the most. When it comes to your social media accounts, though, the effects of the GDPR are actually a little more far reaching than a simple text box asking you to accept new terms.

Increased Data Transparency
Perhaps the biggest change the GDPR is bringing to American users of social media is increased transparency as to how the platforms are using their personal data and a bit more control over which information is shared and used. In the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, these new promises may be of little comfort to those who have already had their personal information exposed, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t seeing updated policies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social sites.


In the simplest terms, the social media giants are revising their privacy policies to make it clearer what data they are collecting and how they are using it. These sites by their very nature encourage the sharing of personal data, but until now, most users have been unaware how the platforms are using the data, even if they are aware that it is being used. In reality, this won’t change much in terms of individual accounts per se, but it will arm users with more information.

That being said, users are being given the option to adjust their privacy settings to limit the information they share, something that experts believe will change the user experience. Facebook, for example, has developed a new GDPR-compliant “privacy checkup” that allows users to determine exactly which information they want to share or not, with the understanding that if they do share certain facts (religion, political views, etc.) than that is effectively providing permission to collect and use that data. Critics of the Facebook process note that it’s designed to encourage users to give Facebook unfettered access to personal data, and that it takes an all or nothing approach; in other words, you can’t share certain information with friends without giving it to the company for their use as well. Still, the changes to the platform do give user’s some level of control over what they share and how it’s used and introduces new protections for younger users.

The changes to the information that users share and how it can be used is also likely to change the advertisements and marketing that you see on social media. Because marketers will have less access to personal information for targeting advertisements and posts, there is likely to be an uptick in paid advertising on the site. Expect to see more sponsored posts and ads in the future, which may or may not be relevant to your interests.

Protecting Your Privacy
Short of deactivating your accounts and going full hermit, how can you protect your privacy on social media in the age of GDPR?

For starters, read and understand the privacy policies of the social media sites so you know what you are getting into. Use the privacy tools that are available to you, and conduct privacy checkups every now and then to ensure that you’re protecting your data to the best of your ability. You might also use a PC or Mac cleaner tool to remove unnecessary data you’re your computer. Remember that just because a site asks for information doesn’t mean that you have to provide it.

Installing maximum security protection on your devices can also help to protect your privacy. While it may not help you understand the GDRP and the related changes, it will add an additional layer of protection to your social media accounts, ensuring that it is safe from prying eyes and cybercriminals. By implementing all of these protections, you can continue to safely connect with family and friends and know that your data and identify are safe.

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