Caring About Privacy Is NOT A Post On Social Media

Do you really care about privacy?   

You will likely read that question and say that you do, but let’s dive in further.

 How often do you post on Facebook?  What about Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or Twitter?  How many friends or connections do you have on those respective networks — and how often do you comment on posts they make to either agree or disagree, like or share?

What about your profiles on social media?  How much information is there about you posted on them?  Do you share what you do for a living?  Is it easy to find out what kind of education you have?  

Do you visit websites that have a cookie policy posted and that deliver targeted ads to you, or do you have an ad blocker on your computer?  

Now diving one layer down: Do you use Google or Yahoo?  Have you ever shopped on Amazon?  Do you enjoy the convenience of online shopping vs. going out in traffic and waiting in line?  Do you use Alexa or Google Home?  Do you have it in a common room of your house?



The modern world loves to talk about privacy concerns, and yet we rarely act in a way aligned with what we say.  The percentage of people who use ad blockers is roughly around 25.8%.  That means close to 75% are 100% OK with ads that target them.  

A different stat says approximately 9% of online households report being concerned about privacy and have altered their online shopping patterns as a result.  To me that says roughly half the people who use ad blockers don’t really alter their shopping online due to privacy concerns.  That’s inconsistent.

I’m not saying privacy shouldn’t be a concern.  It should be.  

What’s good is that most “white hat” companies over-index dramatically on the side of consumer privacy.  GDPR and CalOPPA exist to further protect consumers against the companies that do not.  

There is a pretty fair amount of protection in place, but consumers need to take responsibility as well.  The entire digital economy is based on a mutually beneficial relationship in which consumers trade some of their information for access to helpful tools, products and services.  

You give up some of your info to access free content.  You give up some info to access special deals and incentives.  

The issue is when you are not made aware of the ways your information is being used.   For example, many large companies sell their employees’ email addresses to create a revenue stream, but most employees are not aware of this.  They simply wonder why they start getting so much new spam when they join a new company.  

Your online data gets bought and sold a hundred different ways between companies you have never heard of.  You should be made aware of these transactions.  Consumers have a right to know, even if they don’t take any actions that demonstrate an interest in knowing.  

My point is that you should care about privacy, but you should take responsibility for understanding and aligning your behavior with your point of view.  If you are all “up in arms” that Facebook is selling your data without your knowledge, don’t proclaim you're boycotting Facebook and instead will use Instagram. It’s the same company.  Don’t post a thread on your social media that “stops the company from using your personal information” and then proceed to post pics of your family leaving for vacation for a week -- because those two behaviors are diametrically opposed.  It doesn’t make any sense.

If you like the convenience of the Internet, you are engaged in a fair value exchange.  If you want to be more private, take the steps to do so, but don’t simply proclaim that you care and yet will do nothing to demonstrate your point of view.

So, do you really care about privacy?

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