Sunday, February 26, 2012

Over-communicated : How We Are Sharing More Than We Think

What was one of the first things you did this morning when you woke up?

If you answered checking and updating your social networks - you are not alone. In the last few years social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest (just to name a few) have made it easy to share nearly everything you do, what products you like or don't like, places you go and non profits you support. There really is very little about our personal and professional lives that we can't share online.

We have become the over-communicated society. 

And that is exactly what advertisers want to hear. As consumers, the information we share online, willingly, is gold for those companies who are listening - even more valuable is the data that we don't know we are sharing as an example, when we casually accept User Terms. Seriously, when was the last time you read EVERY page of User Terms of Agreement before clicking accept? Yeah, I didn't think so.

According to the Borrell report, 2012 will see online advertising grow by 18% with a whopping 88% of all local online advertising being viewed on mobile devices. This information is great - but what is disturbing to me is the one thing left out of this data - the amount of private information collected on consumers.

Let's take, for example, Facebook and the text messages of smart phone users who downloaded their app that they admit to (and they now deny) reading. No, I am not kidding.

There is big business in spying on our online activity.

The smart phone we are love to take with us everywhere and use share everything we do (well we think almost everything) is in fact selling us out. Imagine the millions of spying smart phones. All of those apps that you think you can't live without are only fronts to data mining - which is BIG business. Who knew! I don't know about you, but I think it's time to weed out some of the hundreds of apps I've downloaded and never use that may be more interested in me than I am in them. 

It seems as though we the consumer are willingly, offering up a very personal look into our everyday lives. Even understanding the potential for snooping and doing our best to try to prevent it we can still unknowingly be communicating information. If you've been keeping up on the news, you may remember learning that Facebook users were unaware that their web adventures were being tracked online, even after "logging out". More recently Facebook's frictionless sharing, is causing a stir because though it is different from Beacon, it is still up to you to turn the "social" sharing action off.

This is a perfect example of how, in our excitement to share our message, update, picture or latest location - we are indeed sharing more than we think. As RT rightly points out "even the most stringent regulation will not save users who voluntarily sign up to give away their most private data."


A book that is now on my must read list :  The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth by Joseph Turow

From Mr. Turow's interview with NPR he shares :

In the future, Turow says, you might be placed into "reputation silos" by advertisers, who will then market products to you accordingly.

"It has a lot of ramifications of how we see ourselves and how we see other people," he says. "... And this is part of another issue we have to think about, which is information respect. Companies that don't respect our information and where it comes from are not respecting us, and I think moving into this new world, we have to have a situation where human beings define their own ability to be themselves."


What are your concerns about privacy and the internet?

How can we participate in social media and still protect our online privacy?

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