How you are watched online constantly and not even know it.
It may seem like just fun and games when looking at memes or scrolling through your social media feed. But anytime you go online, the last thing any of us think about is being watched and researched including if you watch TV. Some people may even be plagiarizing your content or passing off your selfies as their own.
Just who are these strange folks looking at you online? It’s more common than you realize.
Who’s Looking At You Online?
So actually, the internet is a very public place. Here’s a breakdown of who’s looking at you online.
Family/ Friends. This one is a given. To keep in touch with our family and friends is actually the main reason any of us hopped onto the internet/ social media in the first place.
Peers/ Acquaintances. A step removed, peers and acquaintances are looking at your digital presence too. Still have your classmate from the 10th grade as a friend on Facebook? Unless you specifically filter your posts, they’re seeing your status updates about how you broke up with your girlfriend. A little awkward, but still nothing too out of the ordinary going on here. So far, so good.
Employers. This has been going on for so long, it’s expected and prepped for. Employers for a job or college applications can and will evaluate your online presence. Is your digital representation professional? Does your character online match your resume?
Who Is Tracking Your Content?
Strangers. Here’s where we start to get into creeper/ trolling zone. When complete strangers we have never met, nor will ever encounter, are looking at our “Beach Day In May” photo album… it’s time to turn on the privacy settings.
Corporations. The most unexpected on the list, it’s actually common for dozens of online companies to track and record you constantly while you are online. The data and content they datamine from you are sold to advertisers. (At Swomi, we believe you deserve to receive the value of your online content, not corporations. To learn more about our “Why,” visit our "The Why" page here.)
Customers. This one only applies if you have an eBusiness or online brand. Customers, especially the ones considering making a purchase with you, search for third-party online reviews to confirm your credibility. Your potential customers can be family/ friends, peers/ acquaintances, or strangers.
Who Is Using Your Content?
Some of the above groups may not only be researching you online, they are actively watching you and using your content without your permission!
Content Scrapers. If you are an Active Content Creator (you post regularly on an online platform for an audience), people may be copying your content word-for-word and posting it on their website! While they may be redirecting the article to your website, it’s still a little unnerving. Neil Patel offers a helpful guideline on handling the situation here.
Catfish. Catfishing is when someone uses a fake online persona to romantically con someone. If you have a picture of yourself online, any catfisher can download your photo and pretend to be you or create a fake online persona with your image.
Customers. Customers use your content in a benevolent way. They learn, interact, and engage with your content. Every time they receive relevant value through your content, they trust your brand more. Brands also study customers to make their UX design better as well.
So how does this all resolve so we have a more secure future. There are some people such as Swomi working to protect your valuable assets and those doing the same through research to track those perpetrating fraud. It is a never ending process to protect us and our future.
We are being watched, researched, and have our content used every time we open a web browser. As we have seen, that can be for better or for worse. At least now you know what is going on with your digital identity and online content. Awareness is a great first step.
We believe your online content should never be used for ill-intentions, especially without your knowledge or consent. To learn more about our mission to empower every day people, visit our "The Why" page here. Thanks for reading!
This article is part of our “Future Content" series where we write an article for each letter of the phrase. “Future Content” explores what the future may hold for your online content.
Click below to read more articles in the “Future Content” series: