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Mike
Mike

Posted on

Web Tracking IS GOOD

We always talk about the need for privacy on the web and how that would be implemented. I'm here to play devil's advocate and figure out why this privacy is so important and why we yearn for it so much. I, for one, am not convinced that total internet anonymity and privacy is the right way forward or the best for the web companies that we rely on so much.

Why do we want privacy?

I think this is a pretty obvious answer. Everyone is afraid of the Googles and Facebooks of the world and what they will do with all of the data they have on us. Could future financial profiling become a thing or target you for something malicious? The more data they have, the more dangerous they could become. Have they done anything malicious with all of this data to this point? No, not in my opinion.

What does privacy mean?

In the sense that I am talking about and the hot topic is people tracking what you do on the web through the use of cookies and potentially tracking across different websites. Google probably has the largest presence in this with the Google Analytics tag on most websites. With the use of that cookie, they can track what you do on the web across many different sites.

Why do we care?

This is the question I think we need to put more thought into. We immediately jump to the idea that everything we do needs to be private on the internet. What are you doing that you are trying to hide? I always feel like if I need to be ashamed of what I am doing, maybe I shouldn't be doing it. I know, I know, we are afraid of the power some of the big companies have over us with all of the data. Go for it, look through what I do... I spend way too much time looking at dog Instagrams. Phew! There, I said it.

What would we lose with complete privacy?

This is the part I am afraid of. SO MANY small businesses are alive because of the power of Adsense and social media marketing. If there is no tracking of us on a device basis, those advertising avenues are not available to those small businesses. If they are, it will cost significantly more for them to target the proper audience and could put them out of business.

I actually kind of like the targeted ads I see day to day on websites. If those ads are not targeted, you better bet ads will still be there. They will just be something you do not care about. The internet is a much more personalized experience because of the tracking that is done when you browse. It is telling you what you want to see next and in some cases, it is right!

I have nothing to hide and if you want to track me, cool. If that means more small businesses can stay alive and the ads I see are more targeted, it is a good thing in my book. Instead of always focusing on what those big scary companies MIGHT do with our web traffic, maybe we should start looking at what value they are already providing. We need to think about whether or not this is a good trade-off.

Discussion (10)

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ghost profile image
Ghost • Edited

(warning, strong opinions ahead and a high irony content)

Yea, my all passwords are pass1234 and nothing bad has happened to me, so I guess it's a good idea; I don't lock my door either, my neighbors have been robbed but no me so why should I care; after WWII nobody has used nuclear weapons so what's the big deal, let's build more of those and don't start with pollution, it hasn't killed us all why care about that?, also all the hype about abuse against women, gay people and non-white people; I'm either so why should I care... (read with utmost ironic tone please)

I have nothing to hide and if you want to track me, cool

So what porn do you like?, how do your wife like sex better?, any hereditary deceases in your family? what about your kids? we may want to profile those to see if we want to ensure you. Why don't you post your kids pictures, why not your address? your kids school? nothing to "hide" right.

I have nothing to hide and if you want to track me, cool

I'm not black either so if you want to harass them, cool. (again, irony).

Lucky you that you live in a stable country (maybe not forever), you know what is forever?, maybe your privacy may cost some inconvenience, but in many cases has costed peoples lives.

Not many decades ago people where targeted and sometimes even killed by their believes or political thinking, what do you thing would happen with a database filled with that, even with addresses and circle of friends and family. They used to brand with tattoos nowadays that is not necessary, but who cares about a little tattooed number, no biggie. Now the tattoo comes with GPS and all your data included.

Even now, in some countries have systematized surveillance and that affects their chance to find jobs, getting loans and assurance, lucky you that don't have to think in that. (for now), and what we get in return? better banners? really?

Sorry to come out strong or the graphic examples, but this is not a light "convenience" issue and as we normalize this practices, they become the norm, people get used to it until is too late. You can't change your mind about it, once your data is out there there is no turning back; there is no backsies for your kids after you putted their entire infancy online, no please internet forget I said that.

This is not a UX issue, a should or shouldn't use some color combination. We should stomp on this arguments just like anti-vaccination, anti global warming, etc.

This arguments are even worse and more toxic than flat-earth ones, and that's saying a lot.

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lehmannsystems profile image
Mike Author

Well, these are some serious doomsday scenarios. Maybe you shouldn't use the internet since someone could potentially control your entire home from it someday.

Thanks for sharing your opinion and adding to the conversation!

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ghost profile image
Ghost

In China, your "social score", is affected by your internet history: from certain keywords in chats, search history which may include international news about China, searching for China historical info, etc. people are subject to punishments, from blacklists to services, difficulty to lease property, get jobs, etc.

In other absolutist countries political dissidents are imprisoned. You think governments are collecting data from everyone to target your ads?. US gov intercepted internet communications of Brazil for years, you know, to catch all those Brazilian terrorist... I bet the pentagon was trying to know what brand of TP to advertise to Brazilians.

In Venezuela, based only on their online presence many officials where fired and in 2014 Twitter users where arrested for their Tweets.

It's not like companies have change elections based in collected data (FB/Cambridge Analytica) or given tools to countries to alter others elections, with targeted adds and FB posts.

And of course nobody is taking control of your home, is not like some company give access to authorities to take over your webcam (who said Ring?).

Sorry to burst your bubble, but what you say it "may happen" already did and still happen, your "doomsday" was a couple of years ago. The world is a bit bigger, and apparently a lot harsher, than Indiana.

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thepeoplesbourgeois profile image
Josh

ME (reading the title of this): Oh, this was definitely written by a straight, white guy.

ME (reading "What are you doing that you are trying to hide? I always feel like if I need to be ashamed of what I am doing, maybe I shouldn't be doing it."): Well, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I should've tried not being gay.

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ghost profile image
Ghost

I always feel like if I need to be ashamed of what I am doing, maybe
I shouldn't be doing it

o man! I didn't even paid attention to that phrase, all my ramble above wasn't even taking that into account!, I really had to double check if the post had the "joke" tag. I triple checked now.

I think I'm gonna have to take a cold shower, and record it and post it on the web, I'm not ashamed of my body anyways, so I guess is fine, I'm sure is not gonna affect future job hunting :D

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lehmannsystems profile image
Mike Author

Huh? I fail to see how being gay or straight has anything to do with this. The idea that you shouldn't have anything to hide still stands, gay or straight.

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ghost profile image
Ghost

web tracking is stealing, they are stealing my personal information, if I hide something or not is my decision and mine alone, websites don't ask if I want to be tracked they are taking without my consent.

All the rest is irrelevant, I don't want anyone steal my money, is mine, don't try to convince me that is gonna be used well, that I should have extra money for the thieves or that X USD is not that much money; it doesn't matter, it's my money.

And if you shouldn't have nothing to hide (which is absurd, I don't see your address, phone number and financial data in your profile) why not make tracking visible, public, why not asking first?, why not revealing the data collected and their use; who are they selling to and for what.

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thepeoplesbourgeois profile image
Josh • Edited

Okay. So if I'm gay in a household where my parents believe being gay is an unforgivable affront to God Almighty, and where I am ashamed of being gay, you suggest I do... what?

Let's go ahead and enumerate some of the repercussions I might face for "feeling like I've got nothing to hide", shan't we? Buckle in, buddy, because it's about to get real 🤡

CW: hate crimes against LGBTQ populations

The point is that just because you, personally, do not experience a problem with shedding all of your privacy, it doesn't mean everyone should feel the same as you; it means you should feel very, incredibly, unabashedly grateful for the position of good fortune within which you've found yourself.

Don't imagine that "It works on my box" means the bug doesn't exist. It just means your box is unaffected.

Thread Thread
thepeoplesbourgeois profile image
Josh • Edited

But don't take my word for it! Here's a straight white man with nothing to hide, telling you why zero privacy is definitely bad even when you have nothing to hide (spoiler alert: it's because you don't know what might retroactively be declared bad)

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mellen profile image
Matt Ellen

Have they done anything malicious with all of this data to this point? No, not in my opinion.

The whole Cambridge Analytica thing doesn't bother you at all? Not even a little?

OK, good for you. I will have to strongly disagree.