Monday, April 29, 2013

Social: Is There A Time When It's Okay To Be Tracked?

I abhor Facebook.  I think its campaign to erode privacy to allow Facebook to sell the best product it can, you the Facebook users, to the highest bidder is just horrible but it essentially undermines what privacy is all about for generations of users and it'll only get worse over time.

It's why I am not on Facebook and it's why more folks are waking up to the realization that they don't want to be sold by Facebook to advertisers.

However, not all tracking is bad if there is a benefit to the user as well.  Sure, companies like Google track users and also pushes ads out to us but at least we are getting great suites of apps and services.  Facebook offers none of that.

Take Google Now.  It's been on Android for a while and most people who use it love it.  And now, it's also available in limited functionalities for the iPhone.

So yes, Google is absolutely not giving away its apps and services for free out of the kindness of its corporate heart.  It’s doing it so it can shows you ads and buy goods and services from/through it.  It wants to sell ads that you want to see and click through.

So, while some have issues with that, and I certainly do at times when companies try to pull a fast one on us regarding privacy issues (that does include Apple and Google), there is good to providing some trusted companies with a certain amount of personal details like search results and some geolocation data.

Apple collects info so that it can ultimately provide you with services or apps you want and design/engineer hardware so that it can sell you hardware.  Google does it because it want to make money but it does provide valuable apps and services.

Google Now is a good example.  Siri is also a good example.  Google optimizes searches to help users become more efficient.  All of these services require some information be collected.  At times, we give Google more information than we should or even realized that we are doing it.  It's why we have to keep an eye on Google and other companies that maintain huge databases about its users or subscribers so that no abuses happen.

I have had issues with Apple and Google in the past regarding their privacy issues and it's important that we as mobile users raise our concerns when warranted.  In general, I think companies and governments collect more information than they really need.

At this time, society is faced with a lot of new technology and mobile/social computing practices that no other generations have had to deal with.  There will be companies like Facebook who will keep tearing away at the walls of privacy or a government agency or legislation that overreach.  We just have to push back hard and make sure we don't give up too much freedom or privacy in the name of free and/or useful products.

There is a balance that can be reach.  It's a delicate balance but it's doable.

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