March 8th, 2011
It seems that the latest way for websites and software to make money with their 3rd party advertisers is to give them collected about you. The first place I ran across this was Facebook and the Instant Personalization. This was where Facebook partnered up with some websites to provide us with “great, personalized experiences the moment you arrive.” Translation – we are sending information about you to these sites so they know about you and your friends. Needless to say, that was immediately disabled on my Facebook as well as everyone else’s in my household (if you haven’t done so yet, follow the steps outlined in this tech-recipe!). The next place I came across it was Amazon.com, which again wanted to give you “personalized ads on Amazon.com and its affiliated sites” as well as other 3rd party sites. Another site that needed this feature disabled (good grief!). Amazon states that you are in control, yet I never saw anything notifying me that my information was being given out unless I opted out of the service (you can disable it by following these instructions at Tech-Recipes). Finally, today I downloaded Skype to install on my Windows 7 machine. After installing the software and opened the application. I went through the options and privacy settings and found out that once again I had “opted-in” for giving out my information. Luckily it was “non-personally identifiable information,” or I’d be worried (sarcasm). So, that meant making changes to the software and writing yet another article to make sure others were aware of it being there and how to change the settings.
Is this how things are going to be from here out? Shouldn’t we be notified, up front, in a straight forward manner instead of fine print or deceptively placing the settings in some obscure place? I understand that these sites and software need to make money, that’s why they are in business in the first place, but when you are playing with the privacy of your users, I think that you are going too far. I hope this isn’t a pattern that we all need to look out for, but at this point, it doesn’t look good.