The Internet–No matter what social site you visit, the PPC platform your business uses, where you bank, browse or shop, or the files you share, there is a lot of information being collected about you, your habits, likes and dislikes. Of course, this treasure trove of information is highly useful to corporations, who often use third parties to gather and record such data. It’s all designed with a single purpose in mind, to size you up and plaster your screen with targeted ads.
Facebook’s new graph search, Google’s enhanced campaigns, and Instagram’s subtle suggestion about selling user photos are just the latest examples. Online privacy continues to be very fluid, the boundaries unsure for both advertisers and consumers.
“It’s important and easy for everyone to acknowledge that much of the incredible growth of the Internet today has been fueled by advertising. I believe that will continue to be true,” said Keith Enright, Google’s senior privacy counsel.
Experts warn that corporations might exceed legal and ethical limits when testing new technological features to gather consumer information. Because online privacy is so nuanced, it’s becoming more of an end-user’s decision, “Privacy is increasingly becoming a feature,” said Brendon Lynch, Microsoft’s chief privacy officer.
Some developers are taking caution, going so far as to build-in a data-gathering blocking feature, “We can’t just sit back and allow the industry to just continue to ignore a core component of the user experience online,” says Alex Fowler, Mozilla’s global privacy and public policy leader.
One solution might be a pay-to-play ad free. Companies like Pandora are doing just that, offering ad free use of their software to users who pay. But that could well be a non-starter for many companies, like Facebook, whose users demand the social site always be free to use.