The tales your music taste tells
The idea is that music streaming services build up a detailed picture of users’ tastes, which help point to their personality traits and moods.
You might have wondered whether your Google searches or Fitbit data might one day be held against you by the police or a health insurer. But even something as seemingly innocuous as your choice of music could be interpreted by a third party at some as-yet unknown juncture.
The threat isn’t so much today or tomorrow (I’m mostly listening to the new Aphex Twin EP, which means… I’m an Aphex Twin fan?) but years down the line, when you’ve forgotten you even generated the data. Maybe Spotify falls out of favour and gets sold. Then it shuts down. But the user data becomes a valuable asset in the fire sale, and gets sold on to a firm that merges the data with other data sets its acquired over the years. And then that data is sold to advertisers, insurance companies etc to build up a historical picture of people in the present-day.
And suddenly your spate of listening to The Smiths on repeat non-stop for six months in 2014 is interpreted as a history of depression when you’re applying for a job as an airline pilot, and you’re rejected as a result.
Okay, that’s an unlikely example, but the point is that we have no idea what the data we generate about ourselves (or that we generated years ago) will be used for in the future.
Laws and regulations like GDPR help matters, and the idea of platforms that give end-users ultimate control of their data is growing. But there’s still scope for data to fall through the cracks. Short of opting out of the modern world, or maintaining a bunch of fake personalities via burner phones and throwaway payment cards, there’s not a great deal you can do to stop this.
Still, this is at least another good argument for listening to more vinyl albums.