GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019 - 13

tech talk

Online privacy. Is it as bad as you imagine?
BY DEANNA SHOSS

M

y back had only been out of whack for a week and
I hadn't posted a word about it anywhere. How did
Facebook already know? Right in my feed was an ad
for a 'free back pain relief lunch seminar' in my area. "Creepy," I
thought.
"Science," corrects Jessica Tevaga, CEO of JT
Marketing. "If you've searched or liked anything to do
with those key words--back pain, herniated disc, etc.-you're targeted." Indeed I had done just that. Which had
me wondering, how much do "they" really know? With
the big three, Facebook, Google and Amazon, systematically
documenting and analyzing all of our friends, curiosities and
purchases, should we be worried about our online privacy?

First, you may ask, how does it
work?

To begin with, it's not actually a person manually looking at
your 'stuff'. "Special algorithms look at your browser
and search history over time and give you
information that's personalized
just for you," explains
Tevaga. However, while
it may be algorithms
finding you, it's still you,
capturing your habits, interests and actions
online.
When you visit a website, it leaves a trail of cookies on your
browser. Phones with location enabled allow advertisers to know
where you are. If a website has Facebook pixels installed, the website owner can see what you do on their site and what you do on
Facebook after you leave their site. Adds Tevaga, "when you share
13 GRAND

JANUARY FEBRUARY 2019

your
information like
your phone number and email
address, businesses can match your customer
information to your Facebook profile." This allows them to continue to target you on multiple platforms weeks after your initial

website visit or Google search.
For some that means convenience:
an ad for what you want to be served
to you at the moment you are ready to
buy it. For others it sounds invasive.
Is there any good news about
privacy?
"Basically, it's all bad," says Josh
Sternberg, Tech Editor for Adweek. "Tech
companies have more control over what
you do, how you think, than perhaps any
institution since the dawn of religion," says
Sternberg. "But you can leave the Church.
You can't leave Google." (Technically you
can, as Nithin Coca proved in his article
How I Fully Quit Google and You Can Too,
but it's not easy. For most of us that would
be like Thoreau living on Walden Pond.)
But there is hope says Sternberg. "We're
getting smarter. Governments are recognizing that they have big challenges in front of
them. They're beginning to ask better questions. Regulation is around the corner."
That's backed up by fact. The EU passed the
EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in
May 2018, calling it the most important change in data
privacy regulation in 20 years. In the US, California and
Vermont have passed data regulation laws.
Even with the CEO's of Facebook and Google appearing before
Congress, it does seem that it will still be a while before we understand the repercussions and have regulations in place that make
sense for business and personal concerns.
Continued on next page


https://www.facebook.com/GRANDmagazine/ https://www.twitter.com/grandMmagazine https://www.adweek.com/contributor/josh-sternberg/ https://www.adweek.com/contributor/josh-sternberg/ https://www.medium.com/s/story/how-i-fully-quit-google-and-you-can-too-4c2f3f85793a https://www.walden.org/thoreau/ https://www.eugdpr.org/ https://www.eugdpr.org/

GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019

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