Many college-aged students, such as myself, are on the social networking site facebook everyday. Some of us might even admit to being the site for hours a day; posting every thought, comment and picture that screams “look how much fun we’re having” for the whole world to see.
What many of us don’t realize is that we’re feeding advertisers consumer information that have been targeted for their product, and we have no say in the matter.
In 2007 Facebook added the Beacon feature to their private policy. This addition used a cookie on your computer that would follow and record your other online actions as well as purchases you made and would then post this information on your facebook. (Media Ethics, Chapter 5) This feature was quickly removed after an uproar from the public. However, this tactic is widely used and is known as behavioral advertising, and its goal is to match you to advertisements that correlate to your interests, and it’s considered the next big thing.
SFGate.com agrees that this practice might seem shocking but it certainly isn’t a new idea, and as long as facebook users are content with the site, the site will continue to see information about you without your consent.
Although Facebook has incorporated privacy settings, The Engineering Ethics blog explains how complicated it is to change your privacy settings due to numerous pages of hoops one has to jump through in order to be private.
And yet, many of us don’t think about the ramifications of our online actions, or what privacy it might be costing us.
Let’s look at an example. Say you’ve posted a picture of you as your main profile picture. You have a relatively private profile, so that people who are not in your social circle/acquaintances can only see your main picture.
By positing this picture aren’t you making it public, knowing full well that anyone could take it?
Such is the case of Stephanie Booth, as posted on her blog Climb to the Stars. In one of her posts she addresses the case where a picture of her was screencapped and was published by IB COM without asking her permission.
What do you think? Are we living in a digital age where we have to give up some bit of privacy in return for connectedness and speed?