Russell Brandon in his article The Massive Data-Collection Industry that Fuels Facebook’s Targeted Ads he discusses how companies like Epsilon, Axicom and Datalogix collects data about consumers and their habits to sell to Facebook in conjunction with Facebook’s own internal analytics to create targeted ads. Problems about security and privacy breaches come up when this tracking stems away from Facebook’s own site to other websites and even customer-loyalty card programs for brick-and-mortor stores. This type of tracking can be seen as breaking the divide between the user and the internet.
This divide is the device and the user; to be able to interact with the internet it is thought that you have been actively using the internet. You need to be using your cellphone, laptop, desktop and what have you to be tracked, you are able to (in theory) dictate what sites are able to track your movements within that site, but now the web is pulling away from this interaction. It is seeing everything we do: go to stores x, y, and z; travel to places a, b, and c , use website e, f and g, then it takes this data to build an ad, recommendations and so on and so forth. It watched what we do to build something for us, technically. It is a move away from what we traditionally view as the internet.
Traditionally, the internet is seen as webpages that link to other webpages, and the user travels from webpage to webpage via these links. The internet in this case is a passive entity that people use to interact with each other. As we move further along the internet age and being always connected, the internet is becoming more and more active. It tracks, stores, studies to create a more “personalized” experience for each user. Facebook is not the first company to track its users, but is the most recent company to be seen using an active internet.
This active internet uses everything as a node: webpages, brick-and-mortor stores, cellphones, and laptops and sees the user as the link between each of these nodes. The goal is to study how the user travels along to and from nodes and then from something from this data. Is this a breach of privacy? Probably. Should we, the users, allow it to continue, to allow the internet to become more active more than just a tool to link stuff together? This is a question with no real answer. Seemingly, a more active internet means a sacrifice of privacy, but with a more personalized internet. Suggestions for new books, cafes, websites that revolve around everything the user does. We may meet new people with similar interests; interact in a different social manner, for better or worse. The more connected we are to the internet in ways we never thought possible, we need to start seriously thinking how active we want the internet to be. Do we want to be using the internet or do we want the internet to use us?