Companies such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook want to earn money mainly by selling data. They place little value on the well-being of consumers. Marjolein Lanzing states this in her research dissertation. She received her PhD last Thursday at the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e).
The most important conclusion that Lanzing draws in her dissertation is that there is a strong contrast between what apps promise and what the companies ultimately do with data. Lanzing states that these two objectives are at odds with each other.
Tinder is an example of an app that uses data for commercial purposes. They place some users in a category with few matches, where they will only be successful if they purchase the paid version. The Maya menstrual app is also misleading. The app tracks a woman’s monthly cycle. Now it appears that they are selling this information to Facebook because apparently women tend to make more purchases during ovulation.
“These apps play a major role in shaping yourself and your relationships. That has consequences for how we view ourselves, others and our relationships,” says Lanzing.
Translated and edited: Nicole Cullinan