How 2016 is poised to be the data age. Be Mindful of your data.

Many internet users are completely unaware of the data being collected on them both online and offline. Only when such data is harmful or embarrassing does it become a concern for those who are being routinely commoditized by the websites they visit, the stores they’re at, and the governments they elect. Has anyone once taken the time to actually read those agreements that you hastily click agree to. Or paid attention to that small text or disclaimer. Did you know that multitudes of companies exist to vacuum up the data trail each of us leaves behind in order to build a complete profile of your demographics, behaviors, vices, and health?

We call them persona’s in the internet marketing world. The first time I ever got a glimpse into the vast amounts of data Facebook collects on its users I was astonished. What is even more mind-boggling is that they keep this data forever and sell it to data brokers. These data brokers might collect your credit history, your purchase history from our discount card, license plate data from the county municipality to see if you have parked at certain establishments. Lastly, all of your social media accounts and profiles are reverse engineered from your usernames to place an actual person with the data. Of course, any public records info from marriages, land purchases, court proceedings, etc. are also aggregated into this information.

Now we are looking at the adoption of “smart homes” and “smart cars”. All these connected devices are providing even more data. Data never goes away. Data that will be used to hire or fire you. Data that will be used to determine if you are a worthy renter or how much you should be charged for health or car insurance. All the data that we are generating will be put through untested algorithms without the chance for us to check the data for errors or inaccuracies. Data that can be leaked or hacked. Data that is very personal and private.

So mind your data. Log out of Facebook and social media. Just lurk. Never post.