Saturday, March 23, 2019

Facebook Privacy Row: When you are Not Paying, You are The Product.

April 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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( Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg fired back at Apple CEO Tim Cook following criticism on Facebook privacy scandal. Zuckerberg tried everything to defend his company through newspaper ads, interviews, and blog posts. He even jumped into a war of words with Apple’s Cook. But one thing is clear from the Facebook scandal that customers are being treated as products and that’s how the companies that don’t charge their customers directly, thrive with the help of their personal. Here’s how customers become products for companies.

Online Advertisers Want To Know Everything about You

If you run a business or manage a social media account on a platform like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you may have noticed those sponsored posts. If you manage a Facebook page, you will get to see how effectively you can take your brand’s message to your target audience.

These platforms allow advertisers to use filters including age, gender, interests, location etc. to reach their potential customers and that’s how you see relevant and suggestions on Facebook in the name of tailored/personalized content suggestions.

Your Email IDs are on Sale

Mushroom growth of email marketing service providers is a clear sign of how easy it is to collect email addresses of people. Email marketing companies sell packages that contain email addresses of people. Do you remember the last time you signed up for a newsletter on a website or some web portal forced you to enter your email address just to view the full page or to download a simple PDF file? Once after collecting your email id, many of these websites sell your information to advertisers who pay for such data and bombard your inbox with promotional emails.

Companies Can Access Everything on Your Mobile Phone

Ever wonder why a music app needs permissions to read, edit and modify your phonebook when all it does is play music? In the name of personalization, mobile app developers simply collect personal details from you and use the data to develop their new products or share the details with advertisers to make easy money as they know a lot about your personal interests. Asking for your location and other sensitive information is common in app stores. Unknowingly, you are giving away everything they want and as a result, your privacy is at risk.

User Experience is a Trap

In the name of convenience, you sign up for or log in to mobile and browser-based apps with your social media accounts. It’s easy and doesn’t force us to remember passwords. People can waste time on social media but they find it hard to create separate accounts and remember passwords. As a result, they forget how much information they are sharing and to what extent they are allowing third-party applications to access the information they share on social media platforms.

There’s Nothing Called Control

Although you can find ways to protect your privacy in the digital world, the only effective way to avoid companies tracking us is to stop falling into their trap. Users have limited control over what they write, share and publish. After all, the services you get are free of cost and it clearly means that you are paying the price in some other ways. When you allow apps to collect your information, you lose control. This sentiment not only applies to Facebook users, but to a large number of apps and digital products.

We pay for the user experience but the cost is too much. The awesomeness of Google services and Facebook-owned applications is compelling enough to make people trust and share their personal information. We are helping them build an enormous database and indirectly control our emotions and decisions. Today, they are taking us forward but at the same time, they are capable enough to take us back to an era where democracy and privacy are imaginary things.

Bottom Line

The next time you download mobile apps, visit websites and online stores, keep in mind that if you are getting something without paying cash, you’re paying for the experience with your personal information because you’re their product. So be careful.

Staff Writer; Corey Shaw

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