Everything on the internet is easily available, with a few touches of our fingers. Various online platforms are easily tagged and marketed towards us with the headline “FREE.” Within a snap, we have signed up, given them our date of birth, full names, phone numbers, and emails. Pieces of information that we deem necessary to use a platform – and rightly so. Certain pieces of information are required to sign in and register a user within a multinational database. However, numerous companies are notorious for selling user information to the highest bidder.
These companies will sell our preferences and tastes – which we make public through our behavior on these online and social media platforms. If you take a moment to pay attention, you can easily see how Instagram projects ads and posts that are catered around your preferences and tastes. And if you pay even more attention, you will notice that something you search on Google once will show up in the form of targeted ads across various websites such as Facebook and Instagram.
It is said that these companies create a psychological profile of you, even better than what you know about yourself. Amazon knows which products and price range you are willing to purchase off their website. Only because you give these companies access to vital pieces of information about your life for FREE services. And in exchange, they know you down to the point: aware of your tastes, ideals, values, political stances, beliefs, family and friends. What do they choose to do with this information? What they do isn’t new to us, but we choose to ignore the glaring reality and consequences of our actions.
These multinational companies only make their billions of dollars in profit by turning around and selling your information to other companies. Information about you that you would not tell a stranger on the street, but now who you are is a large package full of personal information that is shuffled between companies with a price tag written on it.
Is it worth it, is the question we ultimately have to ask ourselves? Is it worth it that Amazon, Google, Instagram, Facebook, and numerous other companies know so much information about you that perhaps some of your friends don’t even know?
“There’s No Such Thing as A Free Lunch”
There is an important economic concept known as “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” which ultimately explains that nothing is free because someone must always bear the cost of a good or service even if it is not monetary.
What does this mean for hundreds of online free platforms? These platforms encourage us to sign up in a few seconds for access and use of their website.
Doesn’t sound bad, right?
Let’s take Facebook for example. Free and super easy to sign up for. Just a few pieces of personal information to just dot the I’s and cross the t’s. In exchange, I can now connect with millions of people across the world including friends and family.
That sounds like a steal. I don’t have to pay a single dollar out of my pocket to connect with millions of people around the world. But if we go back to our economics principle: nothing is free, because someone always has to bear the cost.
Who is that someone in this example?
Surprise, surprise that’s us. You, me and the everyday individual. Let me explain how.
Understandably, Facebook has to make a profit which they do through the use of ads across their app and their website platform.
Here’s the catch though. Unlike cable television, these ads aren’t just generic. Facebook and Instagram both run off targeted ads to further increase their profit. Ads that target your preferences and tastes based on your likes, follows, and searches.
So that harmless search for a product you heard about is now going to show up on Facebook and Instagram, along with numerous other websites thanks to cross-platform cookies that track you across different websites.
And now what?
Now, these platforms are going to turn around and sell the user profiles they have created about you for a small amount of money. Honestly, you would be indignant to learn that your personal information, your taste, and online behavior is probably selling for less than five dollars to different third-party companies that market hundreds of products to you.
So now these companies know your purchasing habits, beliefs, and values better than you could know yourself.
Yes, the power of modern technology should scare you.
By selling millions of user-profiles, that’s how companies like Facebook and Google have made their multi-billion-dollar profits.
Like I said, no such thing as a free lunch.
“They Have Something to Hide, But Do I?”
Yes, you do. We all do.
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have done something wrong and should hide your actions from Uncle Sam.
No, that just means that you deserve the basic right to privacy.
Unless you’re willing to stand on top of a soapbox and shout your social security number out loud, then you have something to hide or keep hidden.
Maybe that’s the connotation of the word “hide”, we automatically jump to illegal activities and actions that would be frowned upon by society.
But if I’m being completely honest, it is no one else’s business how I choose to lead my life including my personal beliefs, values, political stances, and personal background. That’s my personal information!
And now you’re thinking of how you gave Facebook all your personal information. Ok, you did that. But did you give them explicit permission to auction your data to the highest bidder or sell that to anyone who would pay a price?
No that’s off-limits. And even more, that’s not right because the adverse consequences of your known and predictable behaviour in the hands of companies intending to sell you something are beginning to cut through your wallet.
You wouldn’t hand over your unlocked phone to a stranger, so why give away all your personal information to a company that will just hand it over to someone else for money?
The privacy should be one of our birth rights. We are allowed privacy in our homes, but we’re not allowed the same regard as our lives on the internet.
In the world we live in, it is imperative to be connected and online.
But for companies to take that necessity and exploit it anger me. And it should anger you.
Those companies don’t care about you, for them you are
– A number
– A statistic
– One more piece of the pie
Now it’s for you to decide who should know you inside out, someone who cares or someone who’s just looking to monetize your personal information.
“New Year, New Me”
Every year I assure you we all stand there toasting to new beginnings, promising ourselves that we are going to change and become a better version of ourselves.
While that might not necessarily be the case, we all change – for better or for worse. It’s all a part of personal development and renewal we all aspire to…
But in the world today, you may have been a misguided youngster blatantly stating your personal beliefs on the internet for all to see. The company you kept and the actions that you committed are in the past because now you are a different person.
Now? You’re older and more mature. A little bit more experienced in the way the world works, and I can assure that a lot of your ideology has changed.
But have you changed? Has your online personality stored by these companies as your psychological profile changed?
No, your old beliefs that you were once so eager to shout off the rooftops are still online on the internet. As they say, once it’s on the Internet, there’s no way you can delete it. Internet footprints are permanent footprints. So we remain cautious.
Because your past will hunt you down and bite you in the future. You will forget, renew and move-on but the Internet does not. future. Whether that’s for a job interview, a date, or a renter’s background search. What you posted on the internet will be there for the long haul.
It’s not going to make a difference to anyone if you have become a better person and changed, your online footprint will still follow you around like a shadow.
You might be a new person now, but to the Internet, you’re the same old one.
“Mic Not Testing”
When you download and open a new social media app, it asks for access to your camera roll and your microphone.
That’s an understandable part of your phone they need to access for you to post videos and pictures.
But the glaring reality is that once you give an app access to your microphone, that feature is always turned on. And they can have the power to turn it on without your knowledge.
Let me bring something to your attention. I’m sure this is something you have noticed but ignorance is bliss.
Think back to a moment when you were talking about a product or something of interest to you and the next time you went back online to an app like Instagram or Snapchat, you suddenly see ads for it.
It’ll probably hit you how the ads you now see are relevant to and connected to the product you were talking about earlier.
I assure you that’s happened on multiple occasions. Now whether that’s something you want to deny or accept, that’s on your conscience.
Another great example, Google and Snapchat. Snapchat scans your conversations for keywords that tie in directly to products that they market.
Have trouble believing me? Go text a bunch of friends with the same string of words referencing a product. Lo and behold, you will see an ad for something related to it.
Many of the free emails that you use read your email contents for targeting ads. How would you like your local FREE postman opening and reading every letter he delivers?
I don’t have anything crazy to hide so is it a big deal?
I don’t mind targeted ads, its stuff that I would end up buying.
Are you telling me that you are 100% comfortable that artificial intelligence and machine learning programs are aware of the products that you will buy even before you make a buying decision?
Is it a big deal?
Yes, it is.
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With Dooth, there is No Tracking. No Profiling. No Prying eyes.
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Dooth is online privacy, security and safety platform. Your messaging, e-mail and social media contents are your business and meant for you alone, not anyone else, including us. With Dooth, you can be yourself and freely explore the online world as Dooth does not track or profile you.