Opinion

‘Free’ Internet: Selling Yourself to the Devil

By Elizabeth White, Wroxton Correspondent

(WROXTON, ENGLAND) – We live in an age where we have sacrificed our own privacy for access of information and we don’t even realize it.

By having a Facebook account, we are giving ourselves up to advertisers by telling them everything: how we identify ourselves; where we live, go to school, work; where we shop, eat, vacation etc.

ProPublica discovered a hidden feature within Facebook’s advertisement targeting that allows advertisers “to exclude specific groups it calls ‘Ethnic Affinities.’” This is a loophole, as it is illegal to exclude people based on “sensitive factors” such as gender and race.

This exclusion of “ethnic affinities” is a violation the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

It also violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to publish “advertisements indicating prohibited preference, limitation, specification or discrimination” in employment recruitment.

Basically, advertisers can select whom they want to advertise to and whom they don’t want to advertise to. This is blatant discrimination.

Facebook also recently changed their Terms of Service to say that even if you delete your account, they can use your content in whatever way they want.

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain…” – the jargon goes on. Reading the terms of service, it is scarily obvious that we are giving up our information so that Facebook can sell us more stuff.

They weren’t lying when they said that what you post on the Internet stays there forever, at least in some form.

And these practices are not just limited to Facebook.

According to Forbes, “Google is bringing together more than 60 privacy policies so it is able to gather all the data it has on each person, creating individual profiles to connect the dots from one service to another.”

You can’t even prevent Google from using your information if you are a registered user; you can only minimize the data it’s collecting on you.

It is also worth mentioning that Google uses the data it has collected on each individual in order to tweak search results.

According to The Register, not only does Google tailor to the specific country that you’re currently in, it gives you results that are similar to links that you’ve visited in the past.

For example, if an individual is a Democrat and typically visits more liberal websites, their Google results when they type in “Hillary Clinton” will be more in favor and positive towards her. A Republican with the opposite search history typing in the same keywords will have different results.

The problem with this is that it demotes critical thinking and looking at both sides of an issue, especially when it comes to politics. People on different ends of the political spectrum are only going to see articles that support their current way of thinking.

So the next time you go to post on Facebook your latest vacation photos, take a second to consider how they are using your information for their own benefit.

“If you’re not paying for it; you are the product” -MetaFilter

Categories: Opinion

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