Independent Online

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Why I allow Facebook to pay me $6 (around R90) a month for my data

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. FILE PHOTO: Valentin Flauraud/Reuters

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. FILE PHOTO: Valentin Flauraud/Reuters

Published May 29, 2022

Share

OPINION: While I don't encourage anyone to share personal data online in the manner I have, doing so requires a lot of caution, even if you believe in being paid for data online platforms have on you already, writes Kyle Venktess.

As internet users intensify wariness around protecting their personal data online, I've decided to share my information and get paid while doing it for one simple reason.

Story continues below Advertisement

My data already exists online and social networks have all of it, so why not just be paid for it?

From Instagram to TikTok, millions of people mindlessly share their data online every day. With all the online profiles we create, mailing lists we sign up for, and photos we share on almost every available platform, we scarily don't know where our data exists.

Despite the dangers and forewarnings issued by the experts over the years, many for many South Africans, it might be too late. It's fair to assume many aren't sure how the Protection of Personal Information (Popia) Act protects them regarding online platforms.

Story continues below Advertisement

While it seems like cybersecurity and Popia are topics for conversation, let's jump back to the question: Is it too late?

With the advent and popularisation of social networks in the late ’00s, many people flocked to join social networks amid the excitement of reconnecting with old friends and distant family members.

During that time, we unwillingly shared our names, birth dates, photographs, selfies, and other personal information and content with the world, without the slightest clue about where that data lives. Fast track to today, many social network users are far warier about the risks of exposed data. They might hesitate to share this kind of information online so freely.

Story continues below Advertisement

This brings me to my decision to willingly share my information and get paid, but most importantly, why.

While working within the tech space for more than 10 years, I share the same issues as many other users. I admittedly and unashamedly find it hard to deactivate Facebook completely. Before you judge, ask yourself: Could you give up Facebook for good?

From witnessing friends break down after losing access to their profiles and the memories, it provides to those who can't kick the habit despite making a concerted effort. If you have a Facebook profile, I will assume it's not that easy for you to give it up either.

Story continues below Advertisement

Today, usage of the platform can differ from user to user, while many use it primarily as a means of communication and to reminisce memories in photographs, others may use it for less common reasons, as I do.

While other users may not share the sentiment, Facebook is primarily, for me, a source of entertainment with the occasional 'check-in' on friends. Despite this, I find my platform usage for watching video content more than anything else.

Now onto the 'why' of this equation. Having been a user of Facebook since 2007, the 20-something version of me was far more naive in sharing content and data. Despite the numerous methods of deleting a Facebook account, I've made peace with the idea that I may never be able to wipe all my data off Facebook successfully or any other digital platform.

Relatively unknown to many users, in 2019, Facebook launched a research app called Viewpoints to better the platform. Facebook describes Viewpoints as rewards for participating in programmes like tasks, research, surveys or trying new products.

Facebook uses data from Viewpoints to help create better apps and services and benefit the community. Viewpoints mention that the service is available to those in only the US on its website. Despite this, I managed to join the programme.

Every week, with or without using the independent Viewpoints app, Facebook rewards participants with 500 'points' within the service. After two weeks, once 1 000 points are earned, the social network deposits a mere $3, equivalent to less than 50 bucks, into my PayPal account. This means Facebook pays me $6 (R94,17 given today's exchange rate) a month for using/not using Viewpoints.

While it is very little remuneration for priceless data, I justified my participation with the simple thought: "Facebook already has so much of my data and probably even information I may have forgotten about. Why not just get paid for it?"

To further support the theory, South Africa has experienced numerous massive data hacks on banks and financial institutions in recent history, which leaked the ID numbers and other personal information of people online. Hence, we are also vulnerable to cybercrimes, even when we practise every precaution necessary.

However, in my defence, my reasoning and decision to cave into earning less than an R100 for my data a month didn't come uncautiously. As many users have become alert to the dangers posed by cybercrimes and the hacking of personal data, so too have I.

Since the rise of data leaks worldwide, I have become more cognisant of the information and content I share digitally. Especially so when this relates to sharing financial information.

Regarding Viewpoints, I linked the app to my most frequently used profile with few friends and little personal information and mainly to view videos.

While I don't encourage anyone to share personal data online in the manner I have, doing so requires a lot of caution, even if you believe in being paid for data online platforms have on you already.

In fact, I urge every social network user to carefully examine their active profiles across all social networks and examine them for potential breach points. With enough research, this can be as simple as using your birthdate as part of your social handle. Hackers can easily build a profile of you from here as a starting point.

Other vulnerabilities can lie in older engagements or posts you've made where you might have unwillingly shared personal information.

Fortunately, many social networks allow their users to download a full activity log of each platform's usage. Head to the settings section of each social network to find this option and never, ever get too comfortable with sharing your personal information online.

IOL Tech

Related Topics:

Facebook

Share