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Disingenuous Customer Service

Disingenuous Customer Service

Did you watch the latest instalment in the Bourne movie series, Jason Bourne? Matt Damon returns to the franchise after sitting out the last one. The movie received glowing reviews from both the critics and the movie-goers around the world, and is a certified blockbuster. The storyline of this movie is loosely based on a recurring rumour that still continues to circulate in the fringe circles of the internet, that Facebook was initially funded by the US Government to intrude into our lives.

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist myself, but in an era of Edward Snowden & WikiLeaks revelations, is it really so far-fetched to think that our government would spy on us? I don’t think so. Government snooping aside, what I do know for sure is this: The current internet darlings Google and Facebook are leading the charge along with a who’s who of search and social media companies in collecting massive amounts of data about their users. They are then slicing and dicing this data and serving up this valuable customer intel to the highest bidders (advertisers) - and in the process are generating billions of dollars in profits - at the expense of their users' privacy.

It’s funny, when the government tries to collect information from its citizenry – albeit, with or without their permission - we denounce it as “spying”, and rightfully so. But when private corporations collect information from their users it is heralded as “targeting”. Yes, the users of these services knowingly or unknowingly surrender their privacy when they sign up for the free services (crumbs) offered by these corporations, like content (news, weather, and maps), applications (to create documents and spreadsheets to share), search, storage, email, and messaging. But I can assure you, the users would be surprised, and dare I say shocked, if they were to find out the level of intrusion these corporations have into their personal lives.    

Don’t get me wrong; technically, the companies mentioned above are not always breaking the laws. Heck, they’re not even breaking their “terms of service” or “privacy policy” agreements with their users. But, boy, you have to hand it to them for constantly devising creative and sneaky ways to gather users’ consent to infiltrate further into their most personal communications and mine for data. To reiterate, these companies, do not break any laws, but they stretch them to their limit. Therefore, it comes as no surprise, that when these practices are subjected to even a cursory review, they do not stand up to the test of upholding the spirit of the law.

In 2009 on a CNBC program, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, commenting about Internet privacy, did not shy away from his company’s view, when he said, “People don’t have any, nor should they expect it. If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Yasha Levine, who has written extensively about for-profit surveillance systems like Google’s, had the following response: “He’s right, because true internet privacy and real surveillance reform would be the end of Google.”

Just today, August 10th, 2016, I read in my local newspaper that Facebook would soon start blocking ad blockers on the desktop version of its service, saying “well-made, relevant ads can be useful”. Nothing makes me madder than when these big companies add new features into their products - in reality, install software on their users’ devices to bypass their security settings, and to more efficiently and accurately track the users’ internet activity to build their personality profile - and present it as improving customer service. They nobly claim the new features are in direct response to the feedback they received from their customers. Give me a break! Instead of hiding behind the veil of improved customer service, they should state their real purpose: to serve their users with even more targeted ads.

I don’t want to come off as picking on Facebook. Every big player in the internet space is guilty of profiling its users. Their entire business model is built on exploiting their user profiles to subject them to advertising stimuli. And yes, that includes Google, Yahoo, Bing, Twitter and the like.

We at housspros.com don’t sell advertising. This eliminates the need for us to track our user activity. Zero tracking. Period!

Image Source: njtvonline.com



Last Updated: 2017-10-26 20:03:53

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