Please Don’t Share

cctv camera technology on screen displayIn what we euphemistically call “Middle Age,” (I don’t know many 116 year olds, do you?), I don’t pretend to know how anyone of a younger generation thinks.  I keep abreast of technologies and tools that they use because I make a living doing so, but my attitude toward that tech and those tools remains … antediluvian.

When a machine invites me to “Share,” my knee-jerk response is an expletive and raised middle finger.  “None of your damned business” remain five of my favorite words.  I find it inordinately creepy, not ‘convenient,’ when Amazon shows me stuff I looked up on other sites under the banner “Based on your browser history.”  I repeat: “None of your damned business.”

Thus, I stay logged out of everything, and only give up name, rank or serial number when not doing so will cost me money.  While incipient paranoia may play a part here, recent events suggest I am somewhat justified.

Gizmodo addressed the latest Facebook assault on privacy with the snarky headline, “Facebook Pinky Swears It Won’t Let Anyone (Other Than Facebook) Surveil You.”

Per The San Jose Mercury News: “Last fall, the American Civil Liberties Union obtained records that Facebook and its Instagram service provided user data access to Geofeedia, which develops a monitoring product marketed to law enforcement … According to the ACLU, Facebook had provided Geofeedia with access to a data feed called the ‘Topic Feed API,’ which is supposed to be a tool for advertisers. But Geofeedia could use it to obtain a feed of public Facebook posts that mentioned a specific topic, place or event—for example, ‘monitor hashtags used by activists and allies, or target activist groups as “overt threats,”’ Matt Cagle, attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, wrote last October.”

Gizmodo again: “But given Facebook’s extensive use of data mining and prediction technologies and the fact that it still gives user info to law enforcement about 80 percent of the time, here’s a more accurate way of putting it: Facebook, a mass surveillance tool that gives user data to police, is updating its policy so that developers can’t build surveillance tools to give data to police. Feel safer yet?”

Meanwhile, Yahoo sent me an email about a week ago informing me that they had been hacked—years ago—and my information had been compromised—years ago. Thanks, folks.

To my generation, there was nothing cool about corporations.  Now, however, there’s nothing cooler than the latest startup to be gobbled up by the tech giant and valued at a quadrillion billion dollars.  When you consider corporations celebrities, you’re more likely to trust them.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t.

—Leonce Gaiter | Vice President, Content & Strategy