Forfeiting Rights in Exchange for Access
A recent study showed that a majority of Americans polled believed it was “not acceptable” to forfeit personal information in return for free access to a social media platform which then uses that same personal information to create targeted advertising. So why is it that a nearly equal majority of Americans use Facebook, perhaps the leading entity in the commodification of personal information? Simply, we have allowed invasive technologies to permeate our lives without much regard for how or to what ends they work. But that’s not to say it’s incumbent on us to seek this knowledge. Rather, it is the responsibility of powerful companies like Facebook and Google to provide us with accessible resources which elucidate their practices, especially when they rely on us to provide their business model. Admittedly, Facebook does provide a pretty walkthrough on its privacy guidelines (prettily buried in the site), but one would be remiss to trust that as an ultimate source. For instance, in 2010, an Austrian law student discovered that the depth of the data Facebook had compiled on him exceeded 1,000 pages, which even included deleted content.