Should I Delete My Facebook? Is Privacy Dead Online?
DeleteFacebook? You are missing the point
Alright. Let’s Talk Internet. DeleteFacebook is trending and many of my acquaintances and friends are taking to the privacy fight. Is it time to delete your Facebook? Is Privacy Dead Online?
No. In my opinion, this is not the time.
It’s good that so many people have recently learned the lesson that what you post online is not really private. Too many of you share photos with your kids full names posted, drunk photos of you at the bar, or post your very personal life details on social media daily. Social media is not a diary you keep locked in your nightside table. It’s more like a billboard, with your name and photo plastered beside it. Don’t EVER post things online that you don’t want in that billboard environment. It could happen to you. See here –
I wrote about Cambridge Analytic and its role in the election in November 2016, even though for some reason the Internet found out about it this last weekend.. It’s worth checking that article out.
Why is the Cambridge Analytica Issue such a big deal?
“In June 2014, a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan developed a personality-quiz app for Facebook. It was heavily influenced by a similar personality-quiz app made by the Psychometrics Centre, a Cambridge University laboratory where Kogan worked. About 270,000 people installed Kogan’s app on their Facebook account. But as with any Facebook developer at the time, Kogan could access data about those users or their friends. And when Kogan’s app asked for that data, it saved that information into a private database instead of immediately deleting it. Kogan provided that private database, containing information about 50 million Facebook users, to the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica used it to make 30 million “psychographic” profiles about voters.”
That means when you “login with Facebook” you are basically handing over everything you’ve done and posted to your Facebook profile to that 3rd party company. Some companies ask for a few things, your name, birthday and email for example. Some ask for a lot more – they (at least in the past) COULD sometimes get access to all your friends profile and a lot of their information too. Facebook should have done more here to protect user data, but didn’t. So even though you, yourself, never do ‘those silly quizzes’. If your friends did, you might exist in these companies databases. Then they get to create targeted buying profiles about you, with your picture, email, etc and use that to advertise to you and impact various things without you using their services at all. I’ve messaged many of you over the years about this, usually to “It doesn’t hurt anything! Stop ruining my fun!”. I hope you understand it a bit more now. 😉
Privacy is Dead
What you should have learned from the Cambridge Analytics scandal is what those in the tech industry already know. Your privacy and any thoughts you might have had of it still existing…. Is dead. Yes. Gone. This is NOT a horrible end of the world thing. Let us explore…
First, Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. You appear on camera at least 50+ times a day on average. Here is an example of a typical day – with a running total – and the number of cameras likely present at each stop:
- 8:00AM: 4 Cameras – Get a cup of coffee – 4 cameras in Starbucks
- 8:30AM: 24 Cameras – School or office – cameras in a parking lot and interior, you will be picked up at various angles by 20 cameras at least.
- 12:15PM: 30 Cameras – Stop at ATM before lunch for cash. Bank will have exterior cameras, ATM will have a close-up camera
- 12:30PM: 38 Cameras – Go get lunch – 4 cameras at lunch spot, plus 4 more easily any surrounding businesses
- 5:00PM: 45 Cameras – Leave work, go to the gym to work out. Camera at the check-in desk, plus in 6-8 in a workout area
- 5:45PM: 46 Cameras – Stop to pick up dry cleaning. Camera at the front cash register
- 6:00PM: 52 Cameras – Stop for gas. Cameras at gas pumps and inside the store
- 6:15PM: 54 Cameras – Quick car wash. Cameras at entry and in the car wah
- 7:00PM: 58 Cameras – Pick up children from practice/game. Cameras in school parking lot or on the outside of the building
I have not even included city/traffic cameras and, in urban areas, you will easily be picked up at most popular intersections and often walking down the street. Visually, you are constantly tracked in this day and age. What about online?
Online Privacy Truths – There are No Free Lunches
We need to accept some Internet truths. You pay to get ON the Internet, but everything that is ON the Internet comes at a cost. Someone has to pay for the computers that run the websites you are viewing. Someone has to pay developers for keeping those websites updated, pretty, with fun and new features. Advertising banners did that for most of our online history, but that has changed in the last few years. People have “smartened up” somewhat to banner ads and are less likely to click on them. Many of you felt the best result is to actual block all banner ads with programs. A basic slap in the face to the website that is trying to stay afloat with these ads. The only way many of the websites you use every day stay working, is because those banner ads show up on the site. Even if you don’t generally click on them, the display numbers are shared with advertisers too. Don’t use ad blockers. 😛
How do Websites Make Money?
Many sites have moved to paid subscription models. Remember how for years your aunt has forwarded you spammy messages about how Facebook was going to go pay any day? It hasn’t. It won’t. As you’ve likely realized and read in the last few days – Facebook makes money off of you. It uses complicated algorithms to figure out who you are. 98% of Facebook’s revenue comes from Advertisers who pay to talk to you on Facebook. $40.65 billion in revenue in 2017 to be exact. That is going to be significantly higher than what it would ever make if it started forcing users to pay.
10% of all retail sales worldwide happened online in 2017. That number will continue to grow. Facebook and most other companies out there from Google to Amazon, take the data they have on you and figure out ways to make you click on more relevant banner ads to make those online sales. Many of you are concerned or annoyed when you see the new T-shirt you googled starts, showing up all over the Internet. You feel invaded or that your privacy is gone. I am all for it! Show me more detailed advertising that might actually be things I want to click on! I accept that I use these websites for free and that if I happen to see something that I’m actually INTERESTED in show up in a banner, why wouldn’t I click on it? Show me ads for zombie t-shirts, and expansion packs for the latest game I’m playing. I’m all for it. That keeps the websites I use free, sites able to continue to run and the Internet keeps working.
You have to understand folks, this is how the Internet works.
What does Facebook do for you?
I gained 5 million followers on Google Plus over the years. I was fine to leave Facebook. Google Plus was significantly better at connecting me to others who had similar interests and creating ongoing conversations about topics I cared about. Google made quite a few bad choices in the direction of Google Plus and it unfortunately never really took off for the average user. Mostly I think because at that time, people were comfortable in their Facebook bubble. In the last few years though, Facebook made many changes to how things work specifically around the newsfeed. They added auto video,and put ads directly in your newsfeed. They bought Instagram, Oculus and What’s app. People also went to more of a posting their opinions and less of a sharing their day to day lives role. There are far fewer dinner and selfie pictures and way more personal thoughts on political topics. Many have gotten ‘tired’ of that.
Facebook still allows you to connect in a passive way with pretty much anyone in your life. You can still look up old high school friends, former co-workers, ex-partners or friends you have not had time to talk to in a while in a few clicks. Even if you haven’t done that in awhile. The option is still there. Your photos are there. Stored for free in an album that you can easily search and check out. Facebook Messenger allows you to send a message to anyone you know. They likely will respond within a few minutes – all without having their phone number. You can get recommendations from your friends in a crowdsourcing easy way. You get to share updates about anything and everything under the sun with everyone you know and then some. Not all parts of Facebook are bad. Facebook makes connecting your life easier, and faster than ever before in human history.
Simple “Best practices” Online for Privacy
- Don’t use Login with Facebook with any 3rd party app, quiz, or websites without clicking the expand permission details and actually reading the terms of what you are sharing. You almost always can use a different login option. Don’t do it if you don’t like what permission the 3rd party company is asking for
- Expect that anything you post online will be viewed by anyone online. Forever and always. Pictures, information, personal details. If you don’t want it on a billboard with your name and photo, don’t post it online.
- Inform your friends about these habits also. Call out friends doing silly quizzes or that have authorized these bad apps. Let them know with this article or provide them with more information about what they are giving up to learn What kind of fruit they are.
Delete your Facebook? None of the above issues will go away. You will still be tracked on cameras. Your entire online presence with every website you visit will be watching, tracking and targeting you. All your information you’ve already shared, will still already be out there with any 3rd party. You will just not be able to connect and share with the people important to you anymore. So why deletefacebook? The only one who loses anything in that sitation is you and your friends.