If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? Does anyone care? If you sign up for a website email list and the site uses your information for other purposes, do you care? What are the downside consequences of you sharing something socially? Digital privacy is a hot topic right now as it should be. On one hand, you have consumers who got a taste of the FREE internet meaning content is free, applications are free, utilities are free. On the other hand, you have corporate advertisers who are paying for your access via advertising.
Ever wonder how YouTube could possibly host, store and stream all of that video content to everyone, anytime and not charge a dime for it? Ever wonder how Flickr and Facebook can store you entire life’s worth of photos for free? It’s not because they like you all that well, it’s because your aggregated data is very valuable. The digital “gold” of the Internet if you will.
I always wonder if people really care about their data privacy. Consider college students who post their secret, crazed college days online. There is definitely a demographic shift of intentionally posting private data. Younger generations are much more open to posting their life happenings onto the web whereas adults who have not grown up with technology are much more stringent on the content they post. The digital data privacy debate certainly has a colorful list of players (my version only):
- Uptights – typically older and do not trust that which they cannot hold (the Internet)
- Loosey Gooseys– Have no regard for any repercussions for what they post, say or otherwise do online. They feel they are exempt.
- Professionals – Have a few accounts (mostly on business sites) that they frequent and a handful of social sites they signed up for but have never gone back to.
- Greenies – first time on the Internet and think everything is “official” because it’s on the Internet whether content, sign-ups or spam links
- Too Cool For Schoolies – who have been on the web since it started and think they can spot a scam or fake cookie a mile away. These are the ones that marketers really love to collect their data on.
- Violated – Every one of the above who find out their data is being used who act like they actually care about it now.
The fact is that your data is collected online both intentionally and intrinsically. Intentionally when you sign up for an email reminder, sign up for a new game or social network ,etc. Intrinsically every time you log on and visit a site someone is following your cookies and making assumptions based on where you visit and what you search for….you just don’t know it. If you want to get a sense of what is collected, just visit the Consumer tab of www.bluekai.com. But don’t blame it on the Internet and all the mean companies on the web. We are the ones who shunned the newspapers when they tried to set up walled gardens and charge for content. We are the ones who refused to pay for personal quickbooks offerings therefore making way for www.mint.com. I liked the way one CMO put it, the federal campaign to require a digital Opt-out list is a scare tactic. What they should really be marketing is a “I want to sign up to pay for my digital content” campaign due to the fact that if everyone opts to not allow digital tracing, then advertisers will have to require a paid subscription for anything they do online.
Now imagine that no matter how smart you think you are, you intrinsic data has been tracked for decades however no-one had the computing power to do anything with it before. That’s right, every time you watch a television show through your cable box, the cable company knows what you watch, when you watch it and how much of it. For instance, they can provide an accurate list of supporters to candidates by knowing if a customer frequents CNN over FOX News, they know when you move and they know if you pay your bill on time or not, etc. Ever wonder how those coupons on the back of your grocery store receipt always have the items you like, they compare what you just purchased against other items that people who purchase similar items usually buy also.
The fact is that marketers are in a never ending quest to become more relevant to you whether online or offline. If business is going to infringe deeper into your privacy then who need to keep them in check. Is it government or industry trade groups? The business landscape is littered with those who have tried to self-regulate (Internet and Housing Bubbles) although there are shining examples as well. I believe that it will ultimately come from some mix of the two where the government will continue to protect citizens from economic privacy harm like identity theft and Industry watch dog groups will hold companies morally responsible. Which brings up another point, Is a company’s obligation to consumer privacy a regulated one or a moral one. If I ever found out that www.amazon.com was using my private data maliciously I would go to www.ebay.com, www.etsy.com or www.jomashop.com no matter if the FTC was there or not.
This big topic will certainly require a pro, therefore who else to cover it than the Social Media Explorer himself Jason Falls. This is Jason’s 2nd time hosting and if this chat is anything like that last one he did, we will have to charge a cover fee (speaking of free content :-)) to pay for all the extra server strain he brings. Jason is a coveted strategist, speaker and all around good person and we are happy to have him hosting once again. The topic and questions are:
Topic: Radical Transparency of Privacy In Social Media
Q1: What is a business’s obligation with consumer’s digital right to privacy?
Q2: Who should regulate digital privacy – gov’t or industry groups?
Q3: What are the moral implications for businesses and digital rights to privacy?
Please join us in this online chat on Tuesday, December 21 at noon ET. Follow #sm91 from your favorite Twitter client or simply go to our LIVE page at www.hashtagsocialmedia.com/live. The format will stay the same with the first question starting at noon and a new question coming every 20 minutes at 12:20 and 12:40.