With the explosion of privacy breaches committed by Facebook and other tech companies in recent years, people have expressed distaste with corporations who use people’s online private information for economic gain. After all, they are profiting off of people’s likenesses and images without consent that goes beyond checking a box that says, “I accept the terms and services.”
However, as people riot over companies like Facebook and the questionable legality of their actions, they are oblivious to the anti-privacy propaganda of a multitude of companies across many industries. With the marketing strategy of easing privacy-conscious consumers into slowly allowing their information to become more and more public, corporations are able to assuage the American public through selective advertising and gradual evolutions of their products.
One of the best examples of this is Amazon, who used the Super Bowl as a stage to calm fears related to Alexa’s privacy. By marketing it as an essential part of any normal family’s life, Amazon attempted to remove doubts from users’ about privacy violations. After all, what would people possibly have done before a robot listened to their conversations and relayed them to a large tech company?
Another example that hits closer to home than most is Snapchat’s Snap Map feature. Advertising the feature as a “new way to explore the world,” Snapchat markets stalking as the best way to interact with friends. Furthermore, through features such as Our Story, many users may be completely unaware that their location could be tracked by anyone on their friends list.
In turn, even though location doesn’t update when the app isn’t open, the app keeps a time stamp on location updates, allowing friends to know not only where but also when people use the app. As the buzz around Snap Map began to calm down after its initial release, Snapchat introduced multiple ways advertisers were able to reach users.
Two of these new options were location based. One of the more notable ad preference options, whose default setting is set to “on”, is where Snapchat sends third-party ad networks information like people’s IP Addresses, Mobile Ad IDs, and ad viewing histories so that they can target users. Furthermore, Apple has been easing consumers into the future of technology by incorporating the use of biometrics into the basic functions of your phone.
The best example of this is touch ID and facial recognition, which are used in order to gain quick access to a phone. By doing so, Apple has welcomed the world to technology that uses your biometric information, and because of their influence, companies like PayPal, Nissan, and Whole Foods are using fingerprints, hands, and facial recognition to improve safety and efficiency. So why aren’t people freaking out over this? Simply put, we like safety and efficiency.
Even if companies target us with their ads, sometimes companies do sell us a product that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about without targeted ads. New technologies like the Eyeris, which uses cameras and sensors to help prevent the effects of distracted driving by knowing everything that’s happening inside the car, are great because they allow for safer driving.
As a result, most people probably wouldn’t care that in the hands of insurers this technology could wreak havoc on one’s premiums because it could potentially save their life. In turn, despite concerns over privacy, people are not going to reject new technology because it plays an essential role in decreasing transaction costs and the efficiencies of everyday life.
Whether one puts privacy over efficiency is a personal question, but it is undeniable that companies have certainly eased us into the future. After all, even if we are being led to the robotic slaughter, at least Alexa knows to set the temperature of my room to a crisp, 67 degrees before I get home.