post by Stephanie Nelson
In a recent expose, the New York Times revealed that Facebook made special deals with tech giants to release users’ personal information without users’ knowledge.
As a social media practitioner, I’m consistently amazed by the uproar these “privacy breaches” cause. Users CHOOSE what they post on the outlet and what they put in private messages. And while the argument can be made that the term “private message” is misleading, it really only means that the message isn’t posted for the masses to see.
The powers that be at Facebook OWN that outlet. To keep the outlet free to users, they have to monetize somehow. So far, this has come in the form of making the outlet more attractive to advertisers. How do you do that? Make it easy for them to target potential customers by providing data that allows them to pinpoint folks likely to buy their goods and services or to make their goods/services more attractive to those folks.
I’m not absolving Facebook of wrongdoing. I mean, they’ve gone on record in multiple places – including in front of Congress – saying this isn’t happening and that users have “complete control” over their information. And if you think Facebook is alone in this, think again. Other outlets may not have been exposed yet, but I can share several anecdotes about conversations on my Google Voice number resulting in ads shown in my Yahoo mail, questions I’ve asked Alexa resulting in ads in my personal Gmail, and more.
In the end, the answer is simple. Limit what you tell the internet. Limit the Facebook friends you have and pages you follow. Check yourself before you watch that Netflix show or order that thing from Amazon. Like it or not, these companies are all now interconnected and sharing our information. This is the new norm.