In this viewpoint for Quartz, Szymielewicz reviews the “caricature” of online profiles used to target advertising and marketing, vet for credit applications, or screen job applicants.
Such profiles - “data doubles” - can be created by user-shared data, but also by tech companies and advertisers who interpret shared data as well as machine generated data based on browsing habits.
As Szymielewicz argues, what users’ behavior tells computers and what those machines extrapolate about the users’ lives cannot be directly controlled by the individual themselves – thus, profiles can sometimes be created more on assumptions than facts. Such profiles are being used for increasingly important transactions in real life, like mortgage applications, social credit systems, or job recruitment.
Szymielewicz looks to the GDPR and a recent shift in corporate perspective to encourage less machine-driven data brokerage and more direct user control of what information is shared with advertisers, insurers, employers and other third parties.
As Szymielewicz states: