Free Data

Free Data

I was reading something the other day and perusing the comments when I noticed the following: “I am on the local Republican Party Facebook group…”. This seems very odd to me. Why would any Republican Party group have a Facebook presence? Why would they engage with companies that censor ideas that it supports (at least theoretically)?

I have other vices, but social media is not one of them. I have never been bitten by the bug. Many people tell me the only reason they have any social media accounts is to communicate with family and friends. I get it, it is fun to see pictures and videos. As I am so often reminded, it is free, so what is the harm.

Free is a misnomer, it is an exchange. I guess no one remembers the old adage, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Social media and other “free” apps exchange data for use. These companies allow access to an app, or platform, and in exchange the user provides access to different information. In some cases, it is location. In others, it is information such as what you search for, what you buy, and who you contact. Most people don’t care. People say they don’t have anything to hide and it makes it easier to search for things when companies know their in the market.

Knowledge is power, or so we are told, but social media took this to a new level. People will eventually realize that their data is worth money. What they buy, or want to buy, when the buy it and where all has value. Right now, they give it away. Companies, once upon a time, spent a lot of time and money trying to lure you into giving them this information. Remember getting envelopes with a dollar bill in them encouraging the recipient to take a survey. Those days are gone. Instead of sending you a dollar bill, they create a game or app for you to download so it can track your every move, search, conversation and expenditure.

Surveys are so yesterday.

I recently saw a commercial for WhatsApp indicating “Always Message Privately!” that was touting its encryption of texts. I certainly don’t want anyone “else” reading my texts, but I found the whole concept almost laughable. If people don’t care if companies track their every move, why would they care if companies, or people, can read their texts? The other thing that is really odd, at least to me, is who is “stealing” these text messages. I’m not a luddite but how are they doing it? It seems like an awful lot of trouble. For specific people, sure, I get it. I’d love to see Nancy Pelosi’s text, just so I can get ahead of some stock picks, but isn’t stealing texts illegal? Is stealing texts like other data breaches, illegal, but almost a daily occurrence?

Has anyone gone to jail for any of these data breaches….ever?

It seems to me, if companies want access to a person’s text, just put it in the terms and conditions. It would add a few paragraphs to an already voluminous document, that nobody reads. Create a new app and boom, access to all texts. Companies could amend their terms and conditions. It would be easy and people truly wouldn’t care.

Most would never know.

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Categorized as Policy

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