What is Up with All of the Privacy Settings Changes?

BlogHer Original Post

First Facebook decided to do away with a privacy function that kept people from being able to find you by your name, claiming that few people used the feature.  The Consumerist states,

Users with this old setting still turned on will eventually receive a notification like the one seen above. After that, the old setting is turned off and the user will need to review his or her current settings to see if they are still relatively hidden (inasmuch as one can be hidden on a site intended for public sharing).

In other words, you can still remain somewhat hidden, but it's starting to feel like a game of hide-and-seek on the site, where people are blasted out of their hiding spots and forced to scurry toward new ones all the while trying not to get tagged out by which I mean found by their stalker ex-girlfriend or boss.


Image: G4ll4is via Flickr

And soon afterward, Google followed suit by running a ticker message at the top of Google:

Hi there. Our new Terms of Service update how we display your information in content & ads.

According to Forbes, this doesn't just comes on the heels of Facebook's privacy adjustment.  This is a replication of Facebook's policy of using your personal commentary to sell products.

Google is making a change to its terms of service that will allow it to monetize the reviews, comments and “+1″s its users have doled out around the Web. Advertisers will be able to incorporate those personalized touches into ads. So if, for example, a contact of mine were searching for “cave hotels in Cappadocia, Turkey,” the hotel that I stayed at — and +1ed afterwards — could pay to have me appear in a Google ad endorsing the place.

Again, it's possible to opt-out for now, but in this endless game of privacy hide-and-seek, the companies are "it" and at some point, they are going to bring you back into the open whether you're ready for the game to end or not.

We're being forced into an age of sharing everything if we wish to be online, and having all of that information amassed under our real name for easy usage by large tech companies and the people to whom they choose to sell our likes and interests.  The only real way to opt-out is to not use these sites, though with the off-screen world mimicking the on-screen world, there really is no perfect privacy in an age where purchases are tallied and travel habits analyzed. 

The Information Age is both about putting information in the hands of the general public, but it's also about putting information in the hands of corporations.

My advice to my kids has been since day one to never put anything online that we wouldn't care if the world saw it.  Privacy settings are nice, but since they constantly shift, I upload with the assumption that anything "private" is actually public, from my images to my words  In doing so, I never have to worry about changes because my behaviour doesn't need to alter as they adjust their site.  I keep being my circumspect self.

How do you feel about the constant privacy changes or having your words used to endorse products?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.


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