If you have had Facebook for over seven months, the privacy settings have probably changed at least once. If you are like most people, you just check, “I agree,” and move on with your life. However, if you actually take the time to read them, you realize that you are basically signing your life away. Not to be dramatic, but I can never really delete Facebook either, because the data, pictures and information won’t disappear. Not that knowing this changes anything, because I agree to the Terms and Services and keep on Facebooking.
As Ben Goldacre says, “We all make a trade-off between security and convenience.”
However, that trade-off is more easily made when security threats are not tangible or immediate. I’ve never taken nude pictures or plotted a terrorist attack. I’m not a celebrity, and to my knowledge, I don’t have a stalker, so I’m not all that worried about my Facebook security settings.
Similarly, I allow my apps, like Instagram, access to my contacts, photos and location without hesitation. (The only time I have gone back and changed my security settings is when I mistakenly agreed to “push notifications” from Candy Crush — big mistake.) I haven’t worried about Instagram or Snapchat accessing my location and camera because that’s the point of the apps; and, what would they do with that information anyway?
As Goldacre points out, these “nuggets of personal information . . . seem trivial, individually, [until they are] aggregated, indexed and processed.”
When an indexing system is created, no matter how creepy, it can’t be said that we will alter our behavior. Even though I know surveillance companies can track my location based on cellular data from cell towers, I’m not going to stop using my cellphone. Just like I wont stop taking BuzzFeed quizzes despite knowing my recorded responses could create quite the profile.
What I find most interesting about the issue of data security, and its lack there of, is its potential. Our cellphones could become glorified VIC cards, indexing our consumer habits on a larger scale. Turnstyle exemplifies the idea that one algorithm could change the structure of the advertising industry. If we really do start using HoloLesnes, will advertisements pop up in our line of sight based on our data? We are not going to stop using technology because of privacy concerns, so companies should use this information to their benefit. I mean, Google uses our search history to target ads, so why shouldn’t Ad agencies use our BuzzFeed quiz answers for targeting ads. Yes, it is creepy, but it could have some potential.