How Data Privacy Empowers Women on Social Media

  • Published on:
    June 25, 2024
  • Reading time by:
    3 minutes
How Data Privacy Empowers Women on Social Media

Social media platforms have become an undeniable facet of modern life, offering a space for connection, creativity, and self-expression. But for women, these platforms can also be breeding grounds for harassment, discrimination, and the exploitation of personal data. 

Data privacy helps women by allowing them to regulate their online profiles, resulting in a safer and more transparent social media experience.

Control Your Data Collection

Social media networks acquire massive quantities of user data, usually without the user’s explicit permission. A 2023 Pew Research Center survey found that 67% of Americans have no idea what companies are doing with their data. Moreover, American citizens have little to no faith in social media executives handling their data responsibly.

By understanding what data is collected and how it’s used, women can make informed choices about what information they share online. This empowers them to curate their online presence and share only what they feel comfortable with.

Promoting Respectful Online Interactions

Data privacy isn’t just about individual control; it’s about creating safer online communities for all women. According to Forbes, a study found that 38% of women across 51 countries had experienced online harassment at least once in their lifetime. When women have greater control over their data, they are less vulnerable to online harassment and abuse. 

Platforms can be held accountable for creating mechanisms to report and address these issues. This fosters a culture of respect and inclusivity, making social media a more positive space for women to connect and engage.

Prioritizing Mental Wellbeing

The pressure to maintain a perfect online persona can be detrimental to mental health, especially for young women. A 2022 study published by NIH found that a higher frequency of social media use was associated with increased body dissatisfaction in young women. 

Data privacy empowers women to step away from the relentless pursuit of likes and followers and focus on genuine connections and self-expression. By controlling the flow of personal information, women can create a healthier relationship with social media and prioritize their mental well-being.

The Social Media Mental Health Lawsuit

Another NIH study found that social comparison and the pressure to create the perfect online identity might lead to anxiety and despair. According to TorHoerman Law, this has sparked a surge of legal action against social media companies such as Meta (Facebook and Instagram’s parent company).

These lawsuits allege that social media algorithms and content moderation practices prioritize addictive engagement over user well-being.

Instagram, which is popular among teens, was designed to encourage comparisons among users. Critics argue this fosters unrealistic expectations for young people. Yale Medicine underscores that social media feeds filled with messages about self-harm, eating disorders, and self-image issues can lead to serious mental health problems.

The Instagram lawsuit, specifically, focuses on the platform’s design choices that allegedly exacerbate these negative mental health effects. Critics point to features like algorithmic feeds that prioritize content likely to generate strong emotions and reactions, such as envy or insecurity.

Shaping the Future of Social Media: Advocating for Change

Data privacy is an ongoing conversation, and women have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of social media. By advocating for stricter data protection laws and holding platforms accountable, women can work towards creating a more equitable and empowering online experience. 

By taking control of their data and online presence, women can leverage social media as a tool for self-discovery, connection, and positive social change.

FAQs

How does social media collect data?

Social media tracks your activity: likes, comments, time spent, and even the device you use. Additionally, they track your browsing patterns and create an interest-based profile of you by using cookies. After that, content alteration and targeted advertising are done with this data.

How does Instagram affect beauty standards?

Instagram bombards users with curated, often edited, images. This can create unrealistic expectations of beauty and lead to body image issues, especially for young women. The constant comparison can fuel feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

How does social media affect our brains?

Social media platforms trigger dopamine release, the pleasure chemical in our brains. This positive reinforcement keeps us coming back for more, even if the content itself isn’t necessarily positive. Over time, this can lead to shorter attention spans and difficulty focusing on deeper tasks.

To sum it up, social media can be a breeding ground for harassment and exploitation of women’s data. Data privacy empowers women by giving them control over their online presence. 

This control fosters a safer environment, reduces mental health pressures, and allows women to leverage social media for positive purposes. By demanding data protection and platform accountability, women can shape a more empowering online experience.

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