Jarter Jargon

The Ethical Consumer

Posted on: December 4, 2012

Recently I had to do a project on the ethics behind online advertising, data mining, etc. It’s nothing new to those of us who cruise the web. People are collecting our info, selling it, and using it to better target us as an audience. You think it’s a coincidence that the ads on your Facebook now match your usual online shopping destinations?

Now I for one, and I’m sure you all agree, are kind of weirded out by this idea that some server sitting in a dark room is collecting massive amounts of data and that someone is profiting off of my personal data.

There have been all kinds of law suits brought up against Facebook and Google and others about the privacy issues data mining like this can cause. A lot of people are up in arms, but not too many take the time to think about the other factors of the argument.

Even though it is weird to see tailored ads on pages I visit, it only makes sense. I don’t want to be bombarded with ads for crap I don’t care about. It’s nice to see things I am interested in, even if I don’t click on the ads. Now, while there is some ethical grey area of collecting and using personal information, people fail to realize that they play a large roll in Internet usage. While it may not be ethical for Facebook to scour your page and sell off info to third parties, how ethical is your own internet usage?

Do you download music, movies, books, and other applications? It’s the old topic of illegal piracy on the internet, but if we can’t use the internet ethically, why do we hold a double standard against those who are analyzing what we use the internet for?

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