Jarter Jargon

Who Is Watching What You Are Watching?

Posted on: March 26, 2012

A little while ago, my dad and I were talking about social media and how sites help make someone’s online experience that much better. We got to talking about how the internet has changed business and its influence on culture today.

A little more recent, my dad called me and frantically told me how these sites were tracking what he looked at and what he clicked and that he promptly deleted his Facebook account.

This, coupled with the trouble Facebook has been running into lately with privacy issues, got me thinking about how much personal information and habits we give out freely online. We essentially give people (well, anyone who wants to add or follow us) our lives. We allow countless apps to access our Facebook and Twitter info. We post what we are doing on Facebook along with pictures of ourselves doing those things. We check into places when we do those things. We tweet out random crap about us. But where do we draw the line?

Facebook is starting to implement ways to connect your shopping habits and track and share with friends. Say you “Want” a shirt integrated with Facebook’s soon-to-be “Want” button. Facebook then shares that information on your profile. But behind the scenes, Facebook tracks what you like and sites you look at and tailor ads and suggested links accordingly.

Obviously different browsers have ways around online tracking (i.e. Google Chrome’s ‘Incognito browsing’), but when can we feel safe enough to browse without fearing someone looking over our shoulder at what we are looking at? The FTC is teaming up with the Digital Advertising Alliance to create an “easy-to-use, persistant and effective Do Not Track system.”

Sounds hopeful, but just reminds me of when I signed up for the “Do Not Call List” yet still continue to receive those calls…


6 Responses to "Who Is Watching What You Are Watching?"

I can definitely sympathize with you and your dad. Although social media is positively affecting the way consumers shop online and products/services are promoted, consumers are weary of their privacy – and rightfully so. With so many phishing schemes and identity theft cases aired on 20-20, the average consumer has become extra cautious of their privacy.

On the other hand… by sacrificing some personal information online, consumers are receiving suggestions for more relevant products/services. Cookies, for instance, enables Web sites to keep track of their visitors and can sometimes provide improved user experience. And although it is providing pertinent information about the website’s visitors, I am always a little creeped out to see banner ads and website suggestions tailored to something I googled the previous day.

I’m curious to see how many people take advantage of the “Do Not Track System” you mentioned and how effective it will actually be. Hopefully not like the “Do Not Call List” because I receive those calls way too often as well.

Seems like it’s the price we pay! But I do agree. I think it will be hard to have a “Do not track” system seeing that the “do not call” list doesn’t work.

I wasn’t aware of the “want” button. I think this almost adds a Pinterest like feel to Facebook. I think it will be great for companies in figuring out what their audiences want, however It does provide an overwhelmingly “big brother” feel for us as consumers. I agree with both your points that even though a track opt-out would be the best option, it probablly wouldn’t work–especially because settings change so frequently.

A “want” button? Oh boy, I am about to know a LOT more about people than I need to. I guess it will make it easier to buy birthday and christmas presents?

As far a a “do not track” button, I am not totally sold that this will work either. I tend to think that companies and third-parties will just find a way around it. It may take a few months, but they will find a way, just as the “do not call” list people did.

I do not mind that Facebook takes into account my likes and interests and tailors advertisements to me. I have actually clicked on a number of them and found some interesting things! Yes, if you are a person who likes to keep their information private, I can see how it is creepy. But in this day, we share so much more than in the past. I freely give my credit card number on the internet when buying something. In the past, people thought that was absurd! To me, some degree of customization is actually helpful.

Wow, I had no clue about the Facebook “want” button. I have to wonder, when will Facebook stop? Besides sharing our lives on the site as you mentioned, now we can do our shopping there too? I think Facebook is a great social networking site but the fact that it keeps changing and expanding worries me a little…it’s as if the company doesn’t know where to draw the line. There are so many apps on FB now that make the site appear cluttered and muddles down its real purpose–to connect with friends, family, loved ones, etc. Guess we’ll just have to see what the future holds in store. After all, I don’t think Facebook is worried about any of us going anywhere (well, besides your dad!).

I had no idea about the “want” button either. I am very weary of the applications I authorize on both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. It’s becoming too much with all the games and Facebook apps and it is so hard to distinguish between the legitimate ones and the scams. Why can’t people just leave us alone already? It’s so creepy!

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