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The End of Privacy

I recently read about an app called Ghostery.  You install it in your browser, and as you surf the Web, it tells you how many companies are requesting your information as you visit a site.  The Daily Dot writes,

When I read the New York Times, this box pops up with the names of 11 companies in it. When I go to Target.com, a box pops up with 50 companies. It’s a nice reminder that while I’m using the Internet, companies are quietly watching my every move.

The answer is that if you’re really concerned about privacy, you probably shouldn’t go online.  You probably shouldn’t go shopping with a credit card or out in public or travel or check out a library book or enroll in a class or… well… exist.

Existing is very detrimental to privacy.

I’m being tongue-in-cheek, but I thought the Daily Dot article was an interesting read.  I haven’t installed Ghostery, but I think some of that is because I don’t know what I would do with the information.  Not visit a site?  I mean, really, when surveillance is everywhere from cameras on the street to tweets written about you, it feels like rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic to worry that 50 companies are requesting my information if I buy a pair of flip flops at Target.

I am very mindful about privacy; which doesn’t mean I know how to actually protect it.  Or if I even should.

Well… actually… yes, I still think I should.  But I don’t know how in any real way that makes a true dent in the amount of information being collected from various sources.

I don’t know.  Do you think putting it all out there ourselves online: emphatically listing the brands we like and the places we go and the books we read has made us sort of throw up our hands over the idea that other companies are collecting all this information about us, too?

Side note: Tomorrow is #MicroblogMonday.  Get working on your post.

10 comments

1 Rachel { 05.24.15 at 9:30 am }

The idea of privacy went out the window when PCs and the Internet made its way into our homes. From cellphones (which I have) to the Fitbit or Apple watch – it’s just getting closer to *literally* tracking our every move, what we eat, when we sleep, what we do through the day etc etc. the important thing to remember is that most of us are inconsequential so the data really doesn’t mean anything. No one cares that I’m in my Jammie’s reading a book right now – but there are some people who they do care about and it’s those people who really need to be concerned. I think being mindful of what’s online – especially when it comes to your address or your kids, is all you can do to protect your privacy. And that information someone could still get if they really wanted to. For now, I’m accepting it as it is because there is not a single thing I can do about it. The days of complete privacy in your own home are gone, unfortunately.

2 Mrs. Agony { 05.24.15 at 9:51 am }

My first clue was, several years ago, shopping at home for a pair of shoes, then being at work, not even logged into Facebook or anything, and seeing an add for the shoes I was looking at pop up on some rando website. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. I kind of don’t even care. I like to shop online, I like to use social media. I’m addicted to Pinterest. Sometimes I take “fun” quizzes that I know is just market research. I know you were joking, but if you want true privacy, you’d have to stay offline altogether. And I just don’t have the desire to do that.

3 Briar { 05.24.15 at 10:30 am }

It doesn’t bother me much – it’s just advertising’s next frontier. But I do wish the tech could get more useful. It knows I’ve shopped for flip-flips, but it doesn’t realize I’ve already bought them! Stop showing me ads now! Realize I’m going to the beach next week and give me useful ads for stuff I might have forgotten! Umbrellas! Sunscreen! A good beach read I’ll like! Hurry up and be useful, advertising!

4 Jess { 05.24.15 at 4:12 pm }

Oh no, I don’t think I’d want to see what Ghostery has to show me. I already know from those creepy facebook ads that I’m being watched. I close facebook in the tab sometimes when I’m doing my banking online, but I’m not sure that actually does anything. I don’t ever take those quizzes that are obviously data-collecting tricks. I don’t need to take a quiz to find out how I’ll die (seriously, that’s one of them, it’s like paying 50 cents at a rest stop to get your weight in the restroom) or what my spirit animal is or what kind of wife I am. But I know that all my information is out there. I’m sort of at peace with it, because like you said, existing is kind of detrimental to privacy. There’s no way around it unless you just don’t go online. And it’s hard to be a contributing member of society and not have some sort of online presence. I can try to mitigate it for my own peace of mind, like not doing those quizzes, but the truth is…they probably have that info already.

5 Queenie { 05.24.15 at 6:00 pm }

Meh. I’m having a volume problem, so I’m sure everyone else is, too. It’s all well and good to collect data on who orders Cheerios from Walmart.com, but then what? If no one is scrutizing us individually and in totality in any meaningful way, it’s not much of an invasion.

6 Middle Girl { 05.24.15 at 6:02 pm }

There are ways (“they tell us”) to minimize exposure, but one is exposed none-the-less. I take steps to feel safe(er) and try to stay abreast of things to do if exposure bites me in the a*s.

7 torthuil { 05.24.15 at 8:15 pm }

I don’t really care who knows what I buy, because I don’t consider that very secret or important information (as long as my banking info is secure.) I’m with Briar though – those online ads are useless because they show me what I’ve already bought! and I usually don’t want more than one.

8 Ang aka WhiteKhocolate { 05.25.15 at 5:26 am }

It’s a little scary, but the times when they get it very wrong do provide some amusing anecdotes (!).I was talking to my mother about this last weekend; I don’t know if it’s because I’ve grown up with them or quite what but I tend not to notice ads anyway so in a different way to those above they’re a bit useless =/

9 Cristy { 05.25.15 at 10:19 am }

It’s one thing to know you’re watched, but quite another to know the size of your audience. I’m also mindful of privacy and what is shared. And though I agree one can’t completely be anonymous in this world, one also has to wonder what exactly companies are doing with the data they gather on people. I do see constant ads from Amazon for data scientists, so I also know this is a popular area of employment.

10 Heather { 05.25.15 at 3:49 pm }

I also had that experience of an ad on Facebook showing something else I’d viewed online. A bit scary. But, like you say, existing, just going online are normal, so anyway… I’m also not keen to see a list of companies getting my info…
I think being a blogger is also a decision to open up your life, and since I’ve become more open with my blogging I do post less personal stuff.

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