Monday, March 20, 2017

Blog Nine: Privacy & More

This week's readings opened my eyes to the privacy issues dealing with big data collection and more.  Before reading these articles, I was unaware of how effective such campaigns really are.  I have always understood that my activity online had the potential to be tracked by marketers, etc., but never did I believe that the tracking could (or should) be done to this extent.  It made me take a step back and realize just how effective these targeted messages are, along with their potential going forward.  

One part of me, while reading this material, asked the question, "What's the big deal?"  As I continued reading, I felt as though many of the tactics used by professionals to gain users' data are driven by the desire to learn more about such users without having to ask a single question.  In my opinion, this is dangerous.  In other words, there is no true consent.  The amount of online tracking by these professionals exceeds the "marketing" threshold and inches into intentional violation of personal privacy among online users.  For instance, I do not mind marketers understanding my likes and dislikes, based on my online activity.  This does enable them to create messages that are more tailored to me.  I then begin to see more of what I enjoy seeing in advertisements, etc.  This becomes a problem when the online tracking is done for various other reasons that are less for such reasons.  One example of this would be tracking someone's online use for the sole purpose of persuading him or her of one political ideal or another.  This tracking has now begun for the benefit of political campaigns.  In my opinion, this is alright to do to gain knowledge of the voter base, but politics should not be a subject that allows for online manipulation, based on a person's online activity. 

I agreed with dana boyd's article, when she said that we should find a happy medium on this subject, rather than ruling out all surveillance technology.  I believe she is correct when she says that new technologies can and should be embraced, but there is a line drawn between helpful and harmful surveillance.  She also says that many people cry for help via social media.  If there is not a pair of eyes looking for signs of this, many peoples' calls for help would go unnoticed.  This put the online tracking into perspective for me on an entirely different level.  

I believe that Kevin Kelly sums it up best when he says, "If today's social media has taught us anything about ourselves as a species it is that human impulse to share trumps human impulse for privacy."  This made me take a step back and think about my own thoughts on this topic.  Do I have the same concerns as I had while reading these articles when I'm posting Snapchat stories about what I'm doing, where I am, and with whom I am doing these things?

There is valid cause for concern in some aspects of this data collection and online surveillance, but I think it begins with consumers themselves asking questions and taking a stand, prioritizing personal privacy over social media use.  

The readings for the week can be found here:

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