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I have always said that I don’t mind Google tracking me. It makes shopping much easier. Sephora (I’m a total makeup junkie) will recommend items according to what I looked at. So heck yes, to the new mascara that lengthens lashes that showed up on the side of my screen.  However;  the amount of privacy concerns that social media has generated does concern me and I am starting to rethink my position. There is so much to be concerned about. After all, it’s my information: I should choose how and with whom I want to share it.

Let’s talk statistics- after all they do most of the talking:

  • 33% of consumers were concerned with companies having their behavioral data
  • 40% of consumers said they stopped completed a transaction online because of something in the privacy policy
  • 25% of internet users have no idea what cookies are
  • 66% of users who are not online said they would be more likely to use the internet if their personal information was protected online (Okay now, how many users aren’t online these days? I know my Grandparents aren’t but c’mon! Of course they aren’t. I don’t think the fact that their personal information is safe would really make much of a difference)

Can privacy really be a competitive advantage to some? As our society becomes increasingly less concerned with privacy and more into tracking for marketing reasons, it is quite possible to see how privacy could be a competitive advantage to some. For example:

  • Mozilla allows its users to disable third party tracking all together
  • Apple began requiring apps in its operating system to get permission before tracking their customers location, looking into their contacts
  • Microsoft turns on, by default, an anti-tracking signal in its Internet Explorer Browser

Maybe tapping into customers data increases revenue… but perhaps what customers really want is PRIVACY, and that is where all the new revenue is at. Speaking of privacy, let’s talk about a new app called Snapchat. I’m sure ya’ll have heard of it. All the waitresses at my restaurant use it, and that’s why I first got it. Now all my friends have slowly trickled it and we use it to communicate. It’s just so much more fun when you get to include a quick photo of yourself. My little brother just entered his freshman year in college. Of course as soon as he got to college, he got a Snapchat… (hmmm… let’s think about this- a freshman in college living in the dorms…of course he got a Snapchat!) In fact, Snapchat is the reason this blog is taking me so long to write. Well apparently it was some bros at a frat house who came up with Snapchat (surprise, surprise). Snapchat was promoted with young women who were smiling “devilishly,” but it worked. Of course, Snapchat might have had a sexual connotation to it, but it has become such a mainstream app that clearly Snapchat is also a fun way to send photos without them being online forever.  And that scares more than college students trying to send naked photos, it scares families who don’t all their family photos online, and it appeals to those who want to send ridiculous pictures but don’t want them spread around or always available for others to see. Photos that are posted online may have an infinite life online, and that is scaring everyone. In fact, 57% of app users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place. Snapchat is genius, as it has enabled us to share photos that don’t have an infinite life online. Consumers have started to pick up on the idea of privacy and demanding their rights to privacy. Snapchat is just a miniature step, but mind you, it’s still a step, in this movement for social media privacy.

Let’s talk about what makes apps so that they don’t cross the line:

  1. Transparency- I took an ethics management class over the summer and transparency is a big factor into whether something is ethical or not. With that being said I think that transparency is huge when it comes to privacy and sharing personal information. Be up front and no lawsuits will come about. Well no promises.
  2. Consent- In order to share personal data you must get consent. If you don’t have consent you are doing something you have permission to do. Otherwise you aren’t. Enough said.
  3. Social Element- Sharing information with those who are only in that persons circle. Sharing information with others who are friends of friends is not keeping information within someones circle. By having a way to categorize this circle you are able to control privacy to some extent.
  4. When users leave let ’em leave- Delete their profile and information. Don’t keep it. I think that is simple enough.

Keeping things between decent and creepy can be hard, especially for dating apps. Perhaps you have heard of Blendr… a location-based dating app for straight people. Let me just intercede for all the women and say that this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe I’m just old fashioned and don’t believe that this would ever turn into something real… but then again romance isn’t always the fairy tale story that little girls dream about. After all, my parents met via a dating service… Yes, a dating service. No location based dating app. No internet. A service. The service set you up on ten lunch dates with different guys. They told you where to meet, the name of the person, and what time. That was it. No pictures. No biographies to chose from… the dating service took care of that. And there is something to be said about that. If pictures are popping up on your screen such as with Blendr, by human nature, you are choosing the most attractive people to talk to and therefore you are missing out on things that bond people together in long-term relationships: EVERYTHING ELSE. Looks are good for short-term. Personality is better for long-term. So of course this is not really a dating app but more of a hookup app, after all it’s location based and that is creepy enough. If any women is okay with letting guys know where she is and that she is single and therefore will be going home alone, then I just don’t know what she is thinking. While decent men might not mind the creepiness, it is surely not my cup of tea. Location based dating apps are creepy. Period.  I don’t care if the women consent to giving away their location, and a picture… these apps have crossed the line. The tech world may be making strides, but that doesn’t mean that these strides are all positive.

Apparently Tinder, earlier this year, had exposed the physical location of its users for at least two weeks but possibly months. However the privacy issues with Tinder don’t stop there. It is possible to fool Tinder into making a match with someone who isn’t interested and in doing so exposes the users email address. Let’s just say one thing: don’t use a location based dating app. Just don’t.

Just because it’s so entertaining here are some other creepy dating apps:

  • On the Rebound- This app alerts you when you have a Facebook friend that you have been crushing on gets out of a relationship. So you can be there for her to cry to (Who are we kidding?).
  • Cloud Girlfriend- You guessed it you can create a cloud girlfriend and take her on dates. After all “It’s free, unlike your last date.”

Well now that I’ve covered privacy and apps, let’s move on to Facebook. If you guys have been reading my blog you know that I don’t have a Facebook (after all who has time for that). But that rant is for a whole other day. Lets have a little chat about why Facebook is so popular. Well for the overall picture it provides individuals with emotional support. Who knew? Oh wait I think we all did considering that everyone has a friend who is emotionally unstable and is constantly posting status updates to the annoying point. I know what your thinking, she doesn’t have a Facebook, so how does she know that? All my friends have Facebook. My best friend used to spend hours on the computer consoling this guy she knew in high school about life because of his depressing status updates. Exhausting. Yes. Time consuming. Yes. Facebook is a portrayal of one’s ideal self. They post only the photos they want others to see. They post status updates indicating the person they want to be not the person they are. And heck, who has time for that. Apparently tagging friends in Facebook photos is related to having more close friends. Facebook fills this gap within ourselves that we are missing. Therefore Facebook is just putting a band-aid on the real issue. Humans crave companionship, they need connection. Facebook gives human this feeling of friendship, social support, and emotional support. The real question though is if this feeling that Facebook provides is really taking care of our needs?

 

References

8 Seriously Creepy Dating Apps. (n.d.). Yahoo Shine. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/8-seriously-creepy-dating-apps-192100662.html

Apps: It’s Time to Talk About the Creepy Factor. (n.d.). Business Week. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-13/apps-its-time-to-talk-about-the-creepy-factor

Dating app Tinder is still exposing personal information. (n.d.). Quartz. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://qz.com/150839/dating-app-tinder-is-still-exposing-personal-information/

FEBRUARY 3 , 2012 Why most Facebook users get more than they give. (n.d.). Pew Internet. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/pew-facebook.pdf

Overwhelmed and Creeped Out. (n.d.). The New Yorker. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/02/dating-app-for-women-that-isnt-awful.html

Privacy Statistics. (n.d.). Databases in Cyberspace. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~eroberts/cs181/projects/databases-in-cyberspace/statistics.html

Snapchat and the Erasable Future of Social Media. (n.d.). Business Week. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-07/snapchat-and-the-erasable-future-of-social-media#p5

http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~eroberts/cs181/projects/databases-in-cyberspace/statistics.html. (n.d.). NY Times. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/technology/amid-do-not-track-effort-web-companies-race-to-look-privacy-friendly.html?_r=1&

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