How I approach online privacy Whats in it for me

first_imgThe internet is no longer a scattering of disparate websites and services that have little to do with each other. Today your digital life is interconnected with plug-ins, links, and massive caches of personal data that follow you around. The social web is the glue that holds the modern internet together, and that has made online privacy more relevant than ever. It occurred to me recently that in this brave new world, my trust can hinge on one thing: how useful a service is.This became apparent after I noticed how differently I treat Facebook and Google. I feel like I implicitly trust Google, and that’s not the way I approach most companies. You could make the argument that both Facebook and Google do similar things. They track you around the web, aggregate data about you, and advertise against that data. However, I stay logged into Google as much as possible, but I log out of Facebook and clear cookies the instant I’m done using it (or I just use Incognito Mode).I’ve thought about why I’m willing to pour data into Google, but am innately distrustful of Facebook. The distinction that comes to mind first is that Google offers me incalculable benefit in exchange for looking at ads and sharing data. Facebook? Not so much.I run my life through Google, and rely on it (indirectly) for a good portion of my living. I actually like to stay logged into Google. My email, documents, photos, and so on are more accessible and useful when I’m logged into Google — so I stay in Google’s world and don’t worry about the data collection that’s going on. It’s the same story with Dropbox, which provides me with such a great service that privacy concerns take a backseat.On occasion, I’ve explained to a “normal person” how Google does location tracking with mobile devices. This usually creeps them out, but I feel like I get some of the most significant benefits from these features. Google knows my local haunts, it knows where I live, and it can use that data to alert me to heavy traffic or make my local searches smarter. Some of the location-based features in Google Now blow me away and I’d never dream of giving them up out of some misguided concern for privacy.The problem with Facebook is that the benefits it offers are not as attractive to me. So I can click Like buttons, use Facebook-connected apps, and get down with frictionless sharing? Okay, I guess that’s fine, but it’s nowhere near as useful to me as what Google is offering. That’s why there is a trust gap. Facebook is all stick and no carrot. I can get what I need from the social network by logging in, and then getting the hell out.I’ll be the first to admit that this is not a completely rational policy. You shouldn’t go around using personal benefit as the sole measurement of trustworthiness. What I’m laying out here is the the visceral feeling I have for privacy online. A company can make awesome things, but still engage in sleazy dealings to the point that common sense dictates that I move on.Maybe I give Google too much credit. It is a business like any other, and could someday do something with my data that I find upsetting. That hasn’t happened yet, though. The search giant is transparent about its data collection and provides me complete control over what it gathers. For now, I’m only getting more cozy with Google as time wears on.last_img read more

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