What I mean by that is this: a few people know a lot, many people know nothing at all, but the rest of humankind’s knowledge spans a broad– but not too deep– spectrum. Too many of human-clan are clueless about what goes on around the world, how things work, how what happens impacts their lives.
Let’s take Google and Facebook as two examples and compare their approach to users to Apple’s approach to customers. Apple is all about the feel good experience. So are Google and Facebook, but their approaches vary greatly. Apple is a hardware company that differentiates itself from competitors with software that works better, integrates easier, and remains more secure than others.
Google and Facebook have a different approach because you are not a customer. You are part of their product. They make their profits by selling advertising, and that sale includes data which is culled from your online habits. Yes, they track you while you’re online and in more ways than most average folk or members of the great unwashed masses would understand.
Google is tracking you. Facebook, too. Is that a good thing? It is for Google and Facebook and any entity that gathers personal data to sell to others. Google wants you to use their search engine because that’s where the money is. Google gives away a growing variety of apps so you can view videos, manage email, work on documents, and perform other tasks– absolutely free.
Except, where I come from in the heat of Chicagoland, we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch. All those free applications and searches don’t cost me a dime. Instead, I’m paying with personal information culled by the Googles and Facebooks of the world, and that information is being used against me to influence my buying decisions, my reading habits, and, yes, my thinking.
Wanna get terrified about data collections? Read Aaron Brown’s missive on Facebook.
Facebook hints at how much data it is able to detect when it suggests people who might be in the photograph, prompting you to tag their faces. But in reality, the California-based social network is tracking much more than just faces. When you upload a photo on Facebook, the social network scans the image and detects how many people are in the photograph, and whether it was taken indoors or outside. Facebook is also able to identify humans, animals and inanimate objects.
So, thanks to photos we share on Facebook, the company knows where we live, who we are, how much money we make, where we’re employed, what we do for recreation, what we read, who we communicate with, and I could go on and on but you get the idea.
Like Google, Facebook is an enormous collector of personal information and uses it to influence our online habits. Search is one thing, but Google also uses background tracking on websites and within mobile applications to gather ever more information about you.
Lisa Gutermuth explains:
There’s an old truism that’s popular among privacy advocates: “If you’re not paying, you’re the product.” Your age, interests, purchasing habits, frequented locations, health, and social map are all valuable pieces of information that comprise a digital shadow, which can be packaged, bundled, and sold to the highest bidder.
There you go. That’s their reason for tracking users in a nutshell.
Can you avoid being tracked? It’s very difficult, but you can minimize some of the tracking. However, it’s likely that Google and Facebook and others already have a rather extensive data dossier on your background and habits.
Those are just a few of the reasons why I prefer using Apple products. The company earns money and a large and growing customer base the old fashioned way. It sells stuff. Apple knows about me, but more about what I buy and use than what I do with every minute of my life, and even that information is not used to line the company’s pockets with more gold.
One can view this somewhat secretive tracking in many ways. Innocuous. Or, dangerous. I choose the latter. Even my website, TeraTalks, does not feature any trackers– no ad trackers, no background trackers, no analytics trackers, and not even a cookie.
I believe in privacy.
Google and Facebook do not. Most people don’t know that.