Yes, really, why are we so negligent when it comes to our privacy when in reality, we are the ones who really have the power? Yes, you have the power, I have the power, we hold the power. “What are you talking about, Anton?”. I’m glad you asked because I want you to protect your privacy!
You see, when it comes to tech giants like Facebook, Google, you know who they are, you might be tempted to think that their customers, who pay millions and billions, are their main asset. After all, these are multi-billion giants. You’d be wrong! The biggest asset all of these companies have is you! The account, the user, the subscription, your like, your time, and, most importantly, your data.
The importance of your data
When it comes to privacy, your data is just as important as your own fingerprints, or social security number. You wouldn’t want those out there in the public, would you? Yet we have no problem sharing everything about ourselves online. And no, if you think you’re “sharing with friends”, or “privately”, you’re wrong again. You’re sharing it with these companies who turn everything you share into money and ultimately profit.
Facebook knows more about you than many government agencies. It knows who you are, where you live, who your friends are, where they live, where you go, who you go with, who you vote for, what you purchase, often times the credit cards you use for the purchase, what you eat, where you eat it, where you burn it off, and the list can go on and on.
Why? Because we give all of that away freely, just to “belong”, to show off, or to rub the life we might or might not be living in our “friends’” noses. It doesn’t matter if it’s on Facebook, Instagram, or somewhere else. Once it’s shared, or once you approve that access or tracking request, it becomes an asset.
My colleague Jaime had a lot to say the other day about a similar topic, and how misleading, sometimes manipulative, some of their tactics are. I won’t reiterate, but keeping a product or service “free” shouldn’t come at a cost, let alone the cost of your own data.
If you have an iPhone, you probably took the time to browse through the App Store and its privacy dedicated segment of any app. If you haven’t, or if you don’t have an iPhone, check out below what data apps like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Google, or Chrome are using to track and/or link to you.
I won’t list it out, you can check for yourselves in the screenshots above below. It’s scary, I know.
The scariest part
And here’s the scariest part. We know about it. It’s right there in our faces, yet we still abide, consent, grant access, because, if we don’t, we lose access to the app, its services, and functionality. We’re fearful of missing out, so we “pay the price” of an otherwise “free” offering.
Sometimes being able to check-in at a fancy place on Facebook or posting a picture with a tagged location on Instagram is more important than what happens behind the scenes.
The hotel analogy
Let me ask you this: would you stay in a hotel for free, knowing all the rooms are bugged with mics and surveillance cameras that stream live to a monetized platform? Seriously, I know there would be people subscribing and watching.
…or would you rather pay for your stay and do whatever you want knowing it’s being done in full privacy? You do, after all, close the blinds when you do certain things, don’t you? You do want to protect your privacy!
I don’t know about you, but I’d be totally fine in paying a couple of bucks to Facebook and, in return, see the above screenshots look similar to the one Signal has below.
No, it’s not a shameless Signal plug, though they seem to be getting it. But I digress.
What can you do today?
So, all of this begs the question: what can you do to protect your privacy? I’m not saying you should leave the online and live an offline life. That’s preposterous, and quite frankly impossible today. I’m also not saying you should go all Incognito (though you should get into the habit of using that mode more often). I’m simply saying you should pay more attention to what it is that you share, and start reading the fine prints.
Stop carelessly installing apps and accepting terms and conditions. Yes, I know, they’re designed to be long and convoluted. There’s a specific reason for that.
All of this is because we still haven’t realized, as a “user base”, that we hold the power. Every day, we vote with our time, our money, our likes, our subscriptions, etc. You can vote for, or against. Only when you realize that you have more power than you know, is when you are able to act in your own best interest.
Nothing in this life is for free. Not anymore. Especially not online. There’s always a price. Most of the time, it’s your most valuable asset: your data. Protect your privacy!
Thanks for reading! Welcome to The Editor’s Desk!