Looking to the posts of cpd23-ers this year I see a growing concern around privacy expressed in sentences like “google (facebook) knows already enough about me”. Indeed, a read through most online privacy policies is enough to make your stomach acid curdle.
I wrote about it and will write again about it, but in this post I want to accentuate some thoughts I have around it which I didn’t find back in the posts of other participants.
Smartphone privacy doesn’t exist.
Last year, I bought an android smart-phone. And to be honest, this was the first real privacy issue for me. Before it was rather a theoretical problem, which I thought I could easily handle in my personal life. There are many nice apps on a smartphone, but please sign first up with your google account and – if you want to enjoy all fun fully – let us know your location. So we know where you – or at least your phone – are or is all the time.
Many alarm bells went off in my head. I found it strange there wasn’t a lot of literature around it on the internet, like I still find it strange there is – as far as I known – no concern about it in posts of cpd23-ers. An article which expresses very well I want to say is “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker" on the ProPublica site.
Real name policy of facebook (and google+) doesn’t work
Some recent facts
Fact 1: facebook is lobbying for a while now to make it possible for children under the age 13 to become member. One of their main arguments is the fact that many of them are member already while lying about their age. So they admit their real name or real identity policy doesn’t work.
The most horrible is, of course, that there seems to be no hesitation at all in the marketing of our children. But that is beyond the topic of this post.
Fact 2: I don’t know about the rest of the world, but there are people around here in Belgium with a surname containing only one or two letters. They all received a message from facebook telling them their name is probably fake, so they were offered the opportunity to change it or to prove their identity to facebook. People don’t like to send copies of their passport around the net, so most of them changed their true name in a fake one to continue to use facebook. I can imagine many people sharing their real name with Justin Bieber and Paul McCartney around the globe do the same.
This all reminds me a bit of the Salman Rushdie facebook story, but this again should take us to far for now.
Fact 3: Then there is this BBC video “Facebook advertising: Who likes my virtual bagels?”. You can read more about it on this BBC post. I recommend it. It is interesting viewing and more, I’m not surprised by it. It is simply a consequence of the business logic of facebook. By the way, VirtualBagel Ltd is still on facebook.
Combine these three facts with the practice of a lot of gamers to open additional accounts to play their games, people preferring to open a fake account to use or test a tool where it is necessary to log in with a facebook account (f.i. spotify) and the many other reasons you can imagine to play with a false account and the conclusion is clear: there is a big amount of accounts which are fake. Facebook with its big slogan of “nearly one billion users” has no interest in vetting thoroughly all its accounts to confess a great part of them are fake. I don’t even speak about the direct loss of income as consequence of the ban of a lot of gamers.
This doesn’t take away the fact facebook is the biggest social network at the moment, certainly in the western world.
Real name policy of facebook and google+ works too well.
Not so long ago, everybody on the internet mostly used pseudonyms and sometimes their real names. Now the big companies of the internet like google and facebook found out it is better for their bussiness model to work with “real identities”. So they decided it is better that everybody is known on the internet with his or her real name. They decided also your real name can only be the name on your passport. That is the only thing that’s count. Please don’t use the name your friends or family use, only your REAL – and with this they mean official – one counts.
It is well documented that some companies are very nosy about the private lives of their contemporary and future employees. So, most people will be very prudent under their real name, which is a backlash for the creativity on the internet in general.
On personal level, I’m quite happy with the way I can express myself on the internet. But I think it is essential to know how things work and what can go wrong. I don’t search for a new job now, but at the moment I’ll apply for something new, I’ll change some of my facebook pravicy settings. And… yes, I allow some apps to see the location of my phone.
More important are my thoughts about the education of all of us, youngsters and adults alike. It is important to know there is more out there than the worlds of facebook, google, microsoft, apple and the rest. Everybody should know there are operation systems which are freely available, which can replace perfectly our windows system. A decent school system should even demonstrate how to do that. Everybody should know how to root a phone and the pros and the cons of it. The internet is the property of all us and not only of some guys in California or on another place.