Data Tracking: Terrifying or Just Misunderstood?

Geoffrey Gracia, staff writer, website editor, layout editor

Data exposure: two words that can strike fear into the hearts of almost every average tech-using citizen. These days there couldn’t be more mass paranoia about having your data be utilized by some “higher power” to track your every move. But, should that even be a worry? Thanks to people like Edward Snowden, we certainly know we can be secretly monitored at any time. So why worry about how or if personal data is being manipulated if it is already being manipulated anyways? That stigma, frankly, comes from people who just don’t like the idea of data tracking but would honestly not be the same without it. In fact, it might cause even more mass civil unrest if companies like Google didn’t track user information. 

With cautionary tales like 1984 or The Circle, it’s hard NOT to feel worried about how your digital identity and information are being tracked. But, this fear the public may have is blown out of proportion by the media and their exclamatory articles that scream, “PROTECT YOUR DATA!! DON’T LET THEM TRACK YOU!!” Google is one of the biggest culprits of the issue, and they collect even more data than Facebook, which is usually thought of as the largest collector of data. “Google has said in the past it uses much of that data to improve its products. The information can lead to more relevant search results, for example. But it also uses much of the information to deliver ads more effectively…The more information it has about someone’s interests, the better it can target ads,” Washington Post technology reporter Heather Kelly writes in CNN’s article “Google’s data collection is hard to escape, study claims.” 

Yet still, some are adamantly apprehensive about their data. But this can be a legitimate concern

when thinking less about Google and more about pirating hackers. There is an easy fix as people can install or subscribe to VPN services and use private, protected browsing to leave no digital footprint. So as a general rule, be cautious with unprotected IPs, and be wise.  

Without user data tracking and manipulation in apps like youtube, there cannot be any targeted ads, which would make the user experience less enjoyable. If the user is frustrated because of not seeing any ads that appeal to their interests, the lack of user data tracking will be the culprit; be careful what you wish for because you may not know how good you have it until it’s gone. Plus, If you’re trying to avoid “higher monitoring,” there’s practically no point; they can see it all anyway. So instead, focus on how much the data tracking does for YOUR convenience and overall user experience.