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From NPRGoogle And Privacy: Is It Time To Give Up?

 

Google says it is initiating the changes for the good of the user. Consumer advocates and privacy-protection groups don’t see it that way. They fear that Google is gathering too much personal information — without a person’s consent — and spreading it all over the place. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, is quoted in The Boston Globe as saying: “The new Google privacy policy is: You have no privacy.”

So is Google good or not? Helpful or not? And what about Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Amazon and others who seem to be all up in his grill and clocking his every move? They roll out new timelines, new service agreements, new possibilities. Sometimes they shut down familiar formats and useful applications with nary an apology or explanation. They remind us who calls the shots.

 

I’m not a huge fan of the new privacy policy.  I mean, we’re using free services that are provided by companies, so we should expect that the companies would want something in return.  And really, the things Google knows about me aren’t controversial, damning, or incriminating.  But I feel violated somehow.  Maybe I should start signing out of my Google accounts when I browse the web?  That’s what I do with Facebook.  And Amazon.  I just feel a little… used.

Wired.co.uk suggests that I might be over-thinking this — Google’s not selling my information to anybody, just using it to refine my ad experience.  I should be grateful that I’m not seeing the watered-down generic ads aimed at the masses, but tailor-fit, possibly even insightful bids for my dollar.  I hear what they’re saying but I feel like this is a “give a moose a muffin” type issue.  Phone companies, ISPs, social networks, and search engines are using personal information about their users to make money.   The data is cheap, descriptive, bountiful, and it literally pours itself into their databases.  And why shouldn’t they use it?  I don’t know.   I do know that if my local grocer had a store clerk follow me to the bookstore to see what I was reading, I would flip out.  In the end, all I have is a gut feeling that says I should be wary.  It seems like a compromise we have to make to use cool new tech, at least for the time being, until user anonymity becomes an attractive marketing strategy.

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“A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.”

-Mark Zuckerberg

Eli Periser talks about the consequences of an internet individually tailored by algorithms:

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My friend’s dad gave me a heads up about another one of Facebook’s opt-out policies via his status update:

As of today [23 April 2010], there is a new privacy setting called “Instant Personalization” that shares data with non-facebook websites and it is automatically set to “Allow.” Go to Account>Privacy Settings>Applications and Websites and uncheck “Allow”. Mine was checked. Instant Personalization Select partners can personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites.

I’m too used to it to complain about it.  Facebook is a useful social tool.  I just want to make sure people know about things like this.

Screenshot:

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Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online said: “I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook.

Source article

I just wanted to offer a shoot-from-the-hip reaction to the angle this article is clearly driving at. I think it is silly to come out with statistics like this. “Fueling” divorce? I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the rate of people citing “facebook” in divorce papers grew at the same rate of people signing up to use Facebook. Facebook is now a practically ubiquitous part of peoples lives, like driving a car and using a telephone. Neither of those cause infidelity, but they certainly get used in the process.

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Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here’s What Happened

I read this story today and had to share. Very interesting stuff if you have the time to read it.

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I hit randomize for a Farmville character and got this. Thought it looked like Brad a little, what do you think?

Picture 1

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CNN:

Meanwhile, the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard — which enforces strict Islamic codes — said it will prosecute Web sites it accuses of inciting riots, adding to a ban on foreign media reporting on the protests and a block on Internet site such as Facebook or Twitter.

In response to this, I’ll remind all of you that we posted how to set up a proxy server for Iranians to access Twitter here.

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