In today’s society, I feel I have limited privacy. I am constantly connected to friends, family, and co-workers on a daily basis. Facebook makes it so you can see when I am on my laptop and when I am on my phone down to the minutes. Just a few days ago, I was scrolling through a Buzzfeed article “43 People Who Actually Exist”. They displayed a picture of a Social Security Card posted by a Twitter user. Thankfully, someone blurred the numbers but the caption below read “How can anyone steal my social security number? I have it with me and you won’t be able to find it!”…. I’m not even going to comment.
Information is being uploaded and distributed across multiple platforms, on sites that encourage sharing. Full name, date-of-birth, city or home town, email address, and interests are all things waiting to be scooped up by advertisers. 46% of 18-to-29-year-olds said it’s a fair trade for companies to target ads to users based on their personal information in exchange for a free service, versus only a third of the general public.
Roughly 60% of all Americans own a smartphone and have succumbed to the purchase and download of an app. These apps are also a breach of privacy due to apps requesting permission to access certain information from the phone. This leads to geo-targeting strategies. More advertisers are taking advantage of consumers using their company’s apps. This technology sends out push notifications to users when they are in a certain range of their stores. Shopkick and RetailMeNot are two main users of geo-fencing. According to Marketing Charts, geo-aware and geo-fence mobile programs produce the best click-through rates.
Only a few months ago, we were worried about Heartbleed. A flaw that basically allowed people to “break the lock” on sophisticated encryption software, get into the memory of security systems and gather up whatever personal information was there. Only 39% of internet users changed their passwords or canceled their accounts after the situation was resolved. I find this number to be considerably low. As companies strive to meet your interests, it is important for them also to respect your boundaries. Privacy statements should be easily available, personal data should not be shared without consent, and customers should have the choice to opt-in/out of information.