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It’s pretty awesome that Spotify knows your musical tastes well enough to recommend songs and artists you enjoy.
Thanks for the heads up. Yes, I will listen to Leon Bridges all day.
While we’re all well aware that Facebook and Instagram will flog every detail of our lives to the highest bidder, Spotify’s handling of personal information has largely flown under the radar.
To burst that bubble, here’s Mashable:
…the wildly popular music streaming service in fact collects, stores, and shares reams of seemingly mundane user data, adding up to an intrusion that’s much more than just the sum of its parts.
While Spotify customers are busy rocking out, the company has its metaphorical hands full profiting off the data that rocking generates.
When something is free, there’s always a catch. Listening to adverts between songs is a downer and so is Spotify’s use of personal data.
Speaking earlier this month, Evan Greer, the director of digital advocacy organisation Fight for the Future, outlined why you should pay attention:
“Spotify uses the same surveillance capitalist business model as Facebook and YouTube: they harvest your data and sell access to it to advertisers who think they can use that data to manipulate you into buying their products and services… They sell surveillance. Their customers are not musicians and music listeners. Their customers are advertisers.”
Along with the standard information, like names, addresses, billing details, email addresses, and what devices you use to listen to Spotify, the streaming service also collects data that isn’t necessary in order to tick along.
…that may include (but is in no way limited to) general location data, search queries, “inferences (i.e., our understanding) of your interests and preferences” gathered from “certain advertising or marketing partners,” “motion-generated or orientation-generated mobile sensor data,” and, of course, a list of every song you’ve ever listened to as well as how many times and at what time of day you played it (aka your “streaming history”).
You can delete your browser history, but Spotify never forgets.
If you listen to songs about heartbreak all day, for example, you may be targeted by ads punting dating apps. Ads for ‘local singles in your area’ are probably linked to other sites you’ve visited, if you get my drift.
Spotify users are able to limit which data, and how much of it, they share with the company:
The most obvious and immediate step users can take is to make one very specific tweak to their privacy setting: turn off tailored ads.
“If you use Spotify’s ad-supported services and you opt out of receiving tailored ads, we will not share your information with third party advertising partners or use information received by them to show you tailored ads,” explains Spotify’s Privacy Settings page.
Doing so is very simple. Open Spotify, select ‘Account’ in the ‘Profile’ section, and select ‘Privacy Settings’.
Then scroll down and check that ‘Process my personal data for tailored ads’ is set to the ‘off’ position. At the same time, you can also select to ‘opt-out of Spotify processing your Facebook data’.
Once that’s sorted, delete Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and discover the wonders of a life free from social media.
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