Online Tracking – We’re Just Like Hansel and Gretel

January 9, 2013

It’s been reported today that internet companies like Facebook and Google might have to go through more stringent permission processes in the future to access information about their users. Apparently, European Union lawmakers are hoping to give users more control over their personal data online. And to be honest, it’s probably about time too!

Even though I work in the industry and would consider myself to be pretty savvy when it comes to the digital world, I still have no idea how to protect my personal information online. With that said, I don’t feel like the websites make it very straight forward. They want me to be confused and feel hassled by the prospect of trudging through pages to locate and update my privacy settings. Why? Because, at the end of the day they need to know me! In the online world, user information is king and it’s what sells websites to advertisers.

Just back in September, our own offices erupted into what I can only describe as pandemonium when reports starting circulating that Facebook’s privacy settings had been updated, and as a result private user messages were appearing on profile pages. It was like the world had ended (for the girls anyway!). None of us could believe that this was even possible. I went home that evening to tell my family all about the big upset, only for my Mum to come out with a gem of a comment ”What’s the big deal? Sure yous MUST have known that nothing is private when it’s on that internet-thing. Even I know that”. I couldn’t believe it, she had a point. It’s so easy to assume that you can do things privately on the internet, but it’s just not the case.

The video above helps to illustrate just how much information is being gathered about us online. The author rightly points out that tracking isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it can enhance our online experience by ensuring we’re served relevant content. But people do need to have a choice, so it’s great to see that developments are being made to give people just that.

– Susan

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