It's been years since I posted. I wanted to write about this and I thought DaniWeb would be a great place to do so. The topic at hand came about while reading throughout the years my newsfeed about online advertisers knowing too much about us. I would see the occassional legal disclaimer saying that Facebook has no right to any content the user produced. Sometimes you see people abandoning or closing their accounts (only to come back shortly thereafter. Regardless, there's this feeling of insecurity promulgating and I really wanted to debunk these fears that people are stressing over. Here's a couple of fears I want to address:
Fear #1: "Advertisers have access to my photos, what I tell my friends, they know everything about me."
In today's marketplace, advertisers have to compete for the best possible demographics from their audiences. Before the internet, there were surveys taken in a number of ways. One way is that advertisers would use demographic data and compare it to sales data for particular geographic areas. Using that data, they can determine the best possible locations to solicit their products and/or setup a store to access that market. Another way would be calling people on the phone or approaching them in public. However, the data they were collecting wasn't as concise as they liked it.
In marketing, the more concise your demographic data is, the more money you command in that data. It becomes worth more money. Knowing someone's basic data like their age, race, income level, location, etc... only paints a small picture. That data doesn't get at the core of the person and doesn't get them the best advertisement for the buck. If you knew their interests, especially at the time, what kind of products they were looking at, you could command a higher price for this data. Why? Because the advertisement is more likely to lead to a sale because there's knowledge that person is highly interested in that product or a similar product. So I guess you could say that the more likely something is that leads to a sale, the more valuable it is.
Anyway, to address what's at hand here, it's not such a big deal. No one is really going through your profile and finding out information about you. A computer is going through all this information and sifting out keywords or other particulars. It's kinda like reading this sentence and picking out all the vowels. When you pick them out, it doesn't make much sense. It's pretty paranoid to think that you're that important where people are monitoring your profile and information. No one is monitoring it unless they have really good reasons. Before the internet, you were being monitored anyway, it just took longer to get the information.
Fear #2: What if the government finds out what I'm writing?
If you're not up to illegal activities, you have nothing to worry about. If you are, then you probably shouldn't be conspiring on the internet. If you live in the United States or any other free country, you shouldn't have to worry about anything. There's nothing really preventing your freedom on the internet, including your freedom to share.
Fear #3: Hackers can steal my information.
So it's your responsibility to monitor what information you share on the internet. If you're disclosing important information about your life that could be used against you, that's your problem. It's no different than telling people on the street, but on the internet, the information is permanent whereas in person the information may not be recorded. A good tip to keep yourself secure is look at the URL of each page you're on when doing something important. If something looks fishy, do not continue and call the institution you're trying to transact with.
Fear #4: Advertisers are getting increasingly better in selling to me.
Ya think? With all the data they have to work with, they're providing you the best possible product! This shouldn't be a fear. I would embrace this. It makes your life easier. It's telling you what you already knew.
Anyway, thought I'd drop this article in there. Looking forward to the responses :)