Are all social media platforms equal in terms of capturing data?

These may be stupid questions, but I comfort myself that GQ has seen its share of stupid questions. Do Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter capture and share as much personal data as Facebook does?

Or does that even matter since Googleapparently captures and shares even more personal data?

Everyone tries to grab the same amount of data: That is to say, All Of It. Some are more successful than others.

I see. Thanks!

IMO, websites/apps/social platforms, can be broken into three broad classes:

  1. Gathering browsing/usage data of all users. Everyone does this. Example, I am Muttrox, with cookies x, browsers y, IP addresses Z. Maybe they know your geolocationing as well.
  2. As above, plus they know who you actually are. They know I am Philip J Fry and other aspects of my real word identity.
  3. Enriched via 3rd parties (other websites, data sharing agreements, ad networks, Equifax Experian), they know your browsing history across the internet, your income and financials, demographics, etc. Mostly dependent on having your true identity, though there is a lot of innovation eroding that barrier.

I don’t know how the various platforms you mention square up exactly, but I believe Instragram Snapchat and Twitter do not know your real world identity unless you tell them. Facebook has a huge advantage because users don’t have anonymous profiles, they use their real identity. Which also allows them to use #3 if they wish.

It is also my sense that Facebook is much more aggressive about monetizing what they know. Google makes most of their money off of category #1, that alone is the bulk of their revenue. Selling you, the audience. But the more that is known about you, the more these platforms can sell for. Facebook can charge high rates because they know a lot about you – they can target an ad to single female lawyers who graduated college in the 90s well. I’m unclear how the others monetize their audience.

Don’t forget that they also know everything you tell them. Sure, you can leave those fields blank, or fill in false information, but a lot of websites have fields for your age, your birthdate, your hometown, your gender, and so on, and a lot of people fill in those blanks.

It depends on the website. Every website wants that information, but not every one is set up such that users will give it. The website I was associated with had a 2% rate of getting people to fill out their age and gender. No matter what we tried, we could never come up with a reason for consumers to share any of that info with us. Others, like Facebook, by the nature of what they do, get enormous amounts easily.