Facebook and the privacy of your private parts

Does Facebook invade your privacy?

Facebook and the Web, in more general terms, and other technologies have redefined what is possible in terms of worm-holing into our lives. This is old news at this point. What’s a little shocking is that the social media wunderkinds come across as unaware and apologetic, as if they have no clue of the havoc they have wrought.

Can they be that ignorant of their own business model? Of course not. They just assume the rest of us will keep buying the aw-shucks act.

I’m a fan of the European opt-in model, and I think more Americans should be as well.  Here’s why: All this invasive technology is not going to stop; in fact, it’s going to get worse, much, much worse. As the internet of things comes on-line, more and more aspects of our lives will be under the microscope, more data, ever more personal.

As Americans, we are a bit naive on the topic of privacy and the abuses of privacy that have gone on and continue to go on all over the world.

We live in a country that ostensibly does not make a habit of spying on its citizens. And even if we’ve crossed that line on occasion, for the most part, we’ve been spared the abuses of family members disappearing forever in the middle of the night at the hands of our government. God Bless our democracy.

But this happens every day in many other countries. Can it happen here? Do these newer technologies threaten our personal security and freedoms? What is happening is that big business is spying on us, and we’re gleefully letting them make scads of money while many Americans struggle to survive. But who owns the right to your data? Who owns the right to profit from it more than you? The big question is, who owns the internet? Social media exploited a free communications channel, one made free by our government funding the internet. Does our government maintain rights over the internet? Will they exercise these rights to protect us? Will the government step-in and leverage available data from these businesses to help protect our privacy?  These are vexing questions. That’s why I favor the opt-in model. Opt-in will not solve the privacy problem completely but it is a step in the right direction. By default our privacy should be protected.

Social media have built business models that exploit our privacy and have become extremely profitable as a result.

Not only does the model make money selling our user data, it’s also sells a lot of ads. The majority of these ads are useless and annoying clutter, the junk mail of the internet. What value are they providing? To my mind, there is very little exchange of value beyond the revenue generated to the social media platforms and those clients that have the types of transactional business models that profit from the mercurial, whim-based purchases of a bored and distracted populace.

When we subscribe to a print publication, we opt-in. We’re agreeing the publication provides value to us in some equal measure of our money. Why should online media channels get to play by different rules? Especially since we are the ones producing the content. Opt-in increases the value exchange and gives us a voice in the matter. Ideally, it also forces a quality dynamic down on the media channel and the advertisers.

Opt-in has the potential to open the door to more competition; which of course, will drive improvements in the marketplace.

The businesses thriving from our interactions and data are never going to change until we, the content generators, demand it.