Apple is positioning itself as a company who cares for your privacy. (Not necessarily for your budget, though…)
As Facebook continues to raise scandals about the way they record, store and sell their user’s data (and not only their user’s data), you may wonder why people continue to use Facebook at all.
I found one answer while reading Kill Process, a science-fiction novel by William Hertling. In the novel, most people in the world are connected by Tomo, the world’s larges social network company. Even if the book is fictional, the similarities between Tomo and Facebook are too many not to think ‘Facebook’ every time you read ‘Tomo’. Despite Tomo’s worst practices regarding user’s privacy, people continue to use the service because in a world where real, face-to-face connections are scarce, Tomo is how people remain connected to their friends. Even if it’s a feeble connection, they don’t dare drop out of Tomo because they fear loosing those conections.
Last year, I did a simple experiment: I deleted the Facebook app from my cel phone. I did not delete my Facebook account, but I only logged into Facebook on the laptop, ideally twice a day.
I’ve never considered myself a heavy user of Facebook. My posts are mostly quotes about things I’m reading. It also serves me as a reminder of my friend’s birthdays. Even so, I was surprised at how many times a day I tapped into my phone trying to open the now non-existent Facebook app. It took me more than a week to unlearn this ‘unconscious’ behavior.
Kevin Kelly, in his great book The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, gives another explanation:
If today’s social media has taught us anything about ourselves as a species, it is that the human impulse to share overwhelms the human impulse for privacy. This has surprised the experts. So far, at every juncture that offers a choice, we’ve tilted, on average, toward more sharing, more disclosure, more transparency. I would sum it up like this: Vanity trumps privacy. (p. 262)
The important question you should ask yourself is: why am I on Facebook?
Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash.
In a recent video, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg defends Internet.org and its freemium model. Internet.org is Facebook’s initiative to bring the Internet to the two thirds of people in the world who are unconnected. They work by establishing partnerships between companies, governments, and mobile operators, and offering free access to a number of basic applications on the Internet. Additional access is offered through regular paid-channels.
Earlier today we announced we're expanding Internet.org to give people around the world even more choice of free basic internet services. We're doing this in a way that respects net neutrality and is also effective in connecting the 4 billion people who need access.Here's my full video explaining our approach and what we announced today.
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, May 4, 2015
An excerpt from the video:
Are we a community that values people and improving people’s live above all else? Or are we a community that puts the intellectual purity of technology above people’s need? As we are having this debate, remember that the people this affects most, the 4 billion unconnected, have no voice on it. They can’t argue their side in the comments below, or sign a petition for what they believe. (…) History tells us that helping people is always a better path than shutting them out.
I think connecting every person in the world is a great initiative, but there are some questions. For starters, opposing the “intellectual purity of technology” against “people needs” is just plain manipulation and rings an alarm in my head. Are they really opposed? I think not. Pragmatism has its dangers. Imagine if the original Internet had expanded around the World under an Internet.org-like business model.
What is more controversial, however, is that the free service in Internet.org’s offering consists of access to the Internet mostly through Facebook. This is a classic situation of conflict of interest1. Sure, Internet.org also offers free services like Wikipedia, access to job boards, and newspapers. But there is no Facebook-sized company offering, for example, free email services or other services that compete with Facebook’s messaging.
As Zuckerberg puts it, maybe this better than having no internet access at all, and they had to start somewhere. There is the old proverb —Don’t look a gift horse in its mouth. But I can’t help but also remember that if you are not paying for the product, then you are the product.
How can we be sure that Facebook’s main motivations are altruistic and not commercial? Are mobile operators’s intentions as pure as Facebook’s? An essential requirement for Facebook should be renouncing publicly to recollect, store or exploit their free-tier “customer’s” social data. I think Bill Gates solved this the right way. Instead of involving Microsoft operations directly in his quest for improving quality of life for individuals around the world, he founded the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation, which operates independently of Microsoft’s business endeavours.
Some months ago Apple notified third-party App Store developers that tracking individual users phones (tracking the iPhone’s UDIDs) was no longer acceptable, and that infringing products would be removed from the store.
However, with the launch of the iOS 6, Apple introduced a new tracking technology called IFA (Identifier for Advertisers), a random, anonymous number that is temporary and can be disabled, but that comes enabled by default.
There are two ways to disable advertisers from tracking your phone usage:
- As Apple explains, you can opt-out from iAds by visiting http://oo.apple.com on your device’s browser. The following screen will appear:
- If you’ve got an iOS 6 device, you can disable tracking on your iPhone’s settings. But this setting is not under Privacy as you would expect, however. Open Settings, and select General/About and scroll to the bottom of the screen, click on Advertising, and turn on (not off) Limit Ad Tracking.
You should do this right now.