Social networks and privacy, two definitively irreconcilable concepts

On the occasion of the world day of social networks this Thursday, June 30, here is a little reminder of their good use in terms of privacy, for the 67% of French people who use them.

As we know, the use of social networks is not without consequences. By writing comments, by publishing, by reacting, by enriching their profile… Internet users leave a digital footprint. But be careful, because this imprint is often indelible…

Lack of transparency

While awareness around the protection of personal data is more common these days, the platforms’ privacy policies are still unclear. Alexandra Iteanu, lawyer specializing in data protection at Iteanu lawyers, describes these settings as “documents with drawers”. Before accepting the general conditions of use of a social network, you must read them… but above all understand them. Which is not so obvious.

To find out what information social networks have about you, you can simply ask them. On Facebook this request is free, only the first time. Beyond that, additional costs must be incurred to access it. To test the service, Arnaud Rayrole, CEO of Lecko, a digital transformation consulting firm, downloaded data held by LinkedIn to find out what the social network knows about him. Bad surprise, “the data was in bulk, unusable. No effort is made on the part of the platform to make this data available” he indicates.

“Even the founders misunderstand how their algorithm works.”

Another problem when it comes to social networks: the opacity of the algorithms used to identify the interests of users. According to Arnaud Rayrole, “even the founders do not know how their algorithm works due to the technology of the machine learning“. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence, which is continuously trained from a set of mathematical and statistical data. On social networks, the AI ​​selects the content that generates the most reactions in the user. Internet user and then offers him similar publications. Only media likely to appeal to the user are presented to him. More interested in this content, the user uses the platform longer and ultimately exposes himself to more advertisements.


Contact details, bank data, location, first and last name, date of birth are in the same way as profile photos, publications, audios, IP addresses, personal data. Thus, a post on your Instagram account is analyzed by an AI, which, using image recognition and interpretation techniques, generates information about your preferences and interests. Combining all this information makes it possible to link an Internet user to a consumer profile, a gold mine for producers of advertising. Free services, users are the products. Profiles are monetized and sold to advertisers so they can target users who are likely to purchase their products. Ultimately, “banks and insurance companies could also use this data to grant credit with a more or less high interest rate and more or less expensive insurance”, observes Arnaud Rayrole.


There are basic recommendations that allow you to regain (a little) control of your data. To protect yourself against the risk of hacking your data and therefore identity theft or theft, use pseudonyms, favor different passwords for each platform and register with different email addresses to avoid reconciliation of your different profiles. As far as profiling is concerned, there is no escape: it is the counterpart to your presence on social networks.

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Social networks and privacy, two definitively irreconcilable concepts

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