Facebook's recent 'instant personalization' has the blogosphere buzzing, and the privacy implications haven't gone unnoticed. Some believe that privacy is effectively dead online, and that individuals simply need to "get over it."
But is that really the case? Is privacy dead? For those of us who are active online, maintaining privacy can be a difficult task, but it's not impossible.
Two words are increasingly surfacing in discussions of an internet that becomes more and more social each day: 'privacy' and 'security'. The reason: the
social web seems to be increasingly eroding personal privacy and introducing new
online security concerns.
Many groups believe that something needs to be done, and it appears
that governments are starting to eye action of their own. But is it too
Privacy advocates and online advertisers alike have long awaited a bill from Congress that will tackle the issue of behavioral advertising online. Today, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Cliff Stearns released (R-Fla.) a "discussion" draft of the bill (pdf here) that requires advertisers to allow consumers to opt-out of online tracking.
Considering that is already standard business practice, it appears that the online ad industry's efforts at self-regulation have been initially successful. But privacy advocates are not going to take this setback lying down.
As individuals become increasingly comfortable sharing information online, they are also ceding their privacy in new — and sometimes dangerous — ways. According to a Consumer Reports survey released today, over half (52%) of social network users are oversharing online. And cybercriminals are taking note. The information shared on social networks is particularly susceptible to criminals looking to find and steal personal information.
At a panel in New York sponsored by Consumer Reports today, speakers
agreed that consumers are posting risky information online. But many
companies are exacerbating the issue with confusing — and frequently
changing — privacy policies.
Facebook has been getting a lot of flack recently. As I wrote last week, Facebook's expansion of Facebook Connect, "instant personalization," opens up a host of privacy issues for users.
And now there's another reason to distrust Facebook. Today it became clear that a privacy hole on the site has made people's event history public. For instance, if you want to go see what events Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been attending, you can do so here.
That's embarassing. And not just because Zuckerberg refuses to use the default privacy settigns on his own site. Quite simply, the company isn't prepared to handle sensitive personal information online.
Facebook is thinking big with its new releases this week. The social network unveiled several new features at the company's f8 developer conference in California, including an expansion of Facebook Connect that adds social aspects of Facebook to partner sites, without any work for users.
This new feature, called “instant personalization,” is a way to access your social graph in more places online. But if users don't particularly want to know their friends' opinions on new sites — or if they have privacy concerns — opting out will become increasingly tricky.
Google is arguably one of the most interesting companies to rise to prominence in the past decade. And the reason isn't just that, in the space of a few years, it grew to become a billion-dollar company and the world's most recognizable online search brand.
One of the reasons is so interesting: it is, for lack of a better word, often paradoxical. Two Google-related news items in the past two days highlighted this.
A massive push on securing opt-ins from consumers on cookies is well under way both here and in the US.
For the record, and contrary to what you might think, I’m glad, if only because it forces us to review how we failed so badly to keep the wider world informed about how online advertising works.
This weekend, AdAge published two articles discussing the lengths to which advertisers are collecting and using data to target consumers for ads. One article details some of the techniques, and the other discusses the potential negative implications.
In short, marketers are increasingly taking data from offline sources and finding ways to apply this data to ad targeting across channels, including the internet.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular analytics services for online publishers, especially smaller publishers. And for good reason: it has most of what the average publisher needs, and it's free.
But Google Analytics is offered, of course, by Google, and Google is no stranger to privacy complaints. That means that Google often has to look for ways to prove to the world that it cares about privacy. One way it's planning to 'protect' user privacy: allowing internet users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics.