The Wall Street Journal has an article about Apps this morning. The paper has done a great job of revealing the so-called seamy underbelly of the online advertising world. Today the theme is that Facebook apps exploit users (and make Facebook million$) by collecting bits and pieces of personal data, details that alone do not personally identify the user, but collectively tell ad brokers and advertisers what you are most likely to purchase next. Boom the correct ad is served to you. Convenient or creepy?
The unconstrained collection of digital data is stirring feelings of distrust among some users. “Consumers are being pinned like insects to a pinboard, the way we’re being studied,” said Jill Levenson, a creative project manager at Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Atlanta. She recently deleted nearly 100 apps on Facebook and Twitter, she said, because she was uncomfortable with the way details about her life might be used.
Collecting personal data is creepy but not invasive. Data collection by apps is largely consented to by users. Actually invasive is when journalists from News of the World and other News Corp papers (of which WSJ is one) hack voicemail so they may divulge salacious personal details which, by the way, also sells advertising.
Farmville, FourSquare, Girls Around Me, Instagram, etc. ask you if you want to share your contacts, relationship details, etc. Don’t get angry with Facebook, just don’t click through and accept such requests without thinking. You have the power!