Note — Feb 10, 2019

Your Digital Identity Has Three Layers, and You Can only Protect One of Them

Very good explanation of the three layers of our digital identity. What we actively and knowingly share (although most don’t know the impacts). What our behaviour tells “them” (surveillance capitalists). “These are not so much choices you consciously make, but the metadata that gives context to those choices.” And what “the machines” think about us. “Your data are analyzed by various algorithms and compared with other users’ data for meaningful statistical correlations.”

The author calls the last two our digital shadow but doesn’t mention the shadow profile that companies like Facebook compile on us, whether we are on the platform or not. The conclusion is good, more transparency, but it shouldn’t only be about perfecting the data about us but deciding if it’s to be deleted.

The bad news is that when it comes to your digital profile, the data you choose to share is just the tip of an iceberg. We do not see the rest that is hidden under the water of the friendly interfaces of mobile apps and online services. The most valuable data about us is inferred beyond our control and without our consent. It’s these deeper layers we can’t control that really make the decisions, not us. […]

The task of these profile-mapping algorithms is to guess things that you are not likely to willingly reveal. These include your weaknesses, psychometric profile, IQ level, family situation, addictions, illnesses, whether we are about to separate or enter in a new relationship, your little obsessions (like gaming), and your serious commitments (like business projects). […]

The only way to regain full control over our profiles is to convince those who do the profiling to change their approach. Instead of hiding this data from us, they could become more transparent. Instead of guessing our location, relationships, or hidden desires behind our backs, they could ask questions and respect our answers.