“Certainly in a few years, we could imagine a scenario where there’s a camera that knows you walked into a store and somehow that’s married to your Facebook activity. … They know your emotion or what you just posted. They know you’re having a good day because you shared something happy about your family, and then they’ll be able to market to you perhaps based on that emotion.”
Many adults assume teens don’t care about privacy because they’re so willing to participate in social media. They want to be in public. But that doesn’t mean that they want to *be* public. There’s a big difference. Privacy isn’t about being isolated from others. It’s about having the capacity to control a social situation.
Consider what happens to text once you submit it to Facebook. Unless it’s a private message, it is likely both public and permanent. A message you posted five years ago, which felt like it was visible only to a small group of friends, still exists on your timelines, where it has become more, not less, visible over time. Facebook is now in the process of making that post searchable, making it more visible than ever and fundamentally changing what it is — not a post on a wall, or on a profile, but a field in a searchable database. Facebook’s effect on data is to make it permanent, to make it easy to find. Facebook memorializes everything you give it, including likes, comments, and reactions — an awkward layer that exists to assure you of engagement, which contrasts sharply with Snapchat’s characteristically ephemeral but deeply satisfying instant read receipts.
Snapchat’s effect on all data is to cause it to deteriorate… If you do nothing on Snapchat, you disappear from Snapchat. This is a profound difference: Facebook profiles stay public whether or not they’re current, and only change if you update or delete them. Snapchat profiles only exist when you ask them to, and they go away as soon as you stop thinking about them.
The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.
Facebook officials are now acknowledging that the social media giant has been able to create a running log of the web pages that each of its 800 million or so members has visited during the previous 90 days. Facebook also keeps close track of where millions more non-members of the social network go on the Web, after they visit a Facebook web page for any reason.
Censorship on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, is near real-time and relies on a workforce of over 4,000 censors who stop work during the evening news, according the first detailed analysis of censorship patterns.
It’s Google, the social also-ran, that knows your real secrets. It knows the things you wouldn’t ask your friends. It knows things you can’t ask your spouse. It knows the things you haven’t asked your doctor yet. It knows things that you can’t ask anyone else and that might not have been asked at all before Google existed. Google’s servers are a repository of the developed world’s darkest and most heartbreaking secrets, a vast closet lined with millions of digital skeletons that, should they escape, would spare nobody.
The real problem that Honan has with Google isn’t that it has started to do stuff that bothers its users. It’s that Google has started to do stuff that bothers users in a way we aren’t used to—in a way that Don’t Be Evil falsely suggested it was above doing. By never claiming to be above evil, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are free to act like normal companies whose efforts to optimize their own self-interest don’t arouse much suspicion.
The result of this consolidation that gives me cause for concern is the fundamental integration of my entire digital life. When you start pulling together email data with browser data, that really begins to paint a near-complete picture of a life lived on the internet. It’s not just search terms, not just circles of friends. It’s every last digital scrap of me.
We are becoming helpless collateral casualties in the war between Google and Facebook.