information study

Learning Goal: I’m working on a information economics writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

First, skim through the headings, subheadings, and initial sentences of the Terms of Use/Privacy Policy of your chosen platform. Pay particular attention to the sections on data collection and usage terms – read those in their entirety, since they should (hopefully) give you an overview of what information the platform stores about users. If they don’t, make note of that too!

Second, explore what controls the platform gives users over what information is stored and how it is used. Different platforms put this in different places – for instance, Facebook puts it in several places in “settings” including https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=privacyLinks to an external site., while Google has an account “dashboard” at https://myaccount.google.com/dashboardLinks to an external site.. If you have trouble finding it, try searching for variations on “user privacy settings [platform name].” Be sure to record your process of looking for these settings – and if they really don’t exist, take note of that and how you confirmed it.

Third, do what you can to find out what this platform does with the information it collects. Do they list third parties they share it with? Do they “anonymize” the information? Analyze it? Use it for targeted advertising? etc. Are there news articles, lawsuits, Wikipedia pages, or other external sources that discuss your platform’s sharing practices? Have there been data breaches?

Use the information you’ve gathered to write a 400-600 word essay that discusses: (1) how readable/understandable you found their privacy policy (be sure to include a link to the policy itself!), (2) what information they store and what they do with it (based on what you could gather from their stated policies and your own investigations), (3) what they allow users to opt out of or control and how easily findable those controls were, and (4) problematic information practices or data breaches you found discussions of, if any, and why you think they are problematic – or if there aren’t any practices you find problematic, why not.

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