The 21st century had its very own industrial revolution with the internet and all its communication pathways. It also created a new perspective on people, charged by the massive amounts of data collected through the use of it, leading to the saying “data is the oil of the 21st century” (Martínez, 2019). Putting an item in the shopping cart of an online shop? It’s logged. Watch a video? Your cookies put it in your media list. Uploading a photo? Algorithms identify the content, recognize faces and link them to the respective accounts (Sebastian Schuon) . Almost all platforms we use on the internet save and process user data to an enormous extend (Curran, 2018) .
This leads to a situation where the biggest companies have pseudo-anonymized profiles of shopping habits, hobbies, interpersonal networks and media consumed. These profiles are so detailed that they can conclude personal information, without ever receiving them. An experiment showed that an algorithm is more likely to guess a user’s sexuality than their closest friends (Wang, 2017) .
Furthermore users do loose control about what information is out there about them. Big data sets are processed by the biggest companies in the world with unknown outcome for the users. Marketing is now focused on personalized, targeted advertisement, showing the products to the users, which they are most likely to pick up (Folgate, 2018) . In addition to that endless lists with user profiles and personal data are being sold on the black market, primarily to scam users (Patterson, 2019)
Youth workers struggle with these things similar to young people. Many young people fear the risks of the internet but deem it unavoidable and essential to their life to partake in (Meike Otternberg, 2018) . Hence youth work should provide better understanding of what happens with personal data,
how it is processed and used to target young people. It should inform about save pathways to navigate the net without leaving too many traces and join the conversation on how to protect at risk groups from the overwhelming effects of surveillance capitalism (Zuboff, 2019) .