Words @ War: Michael Fleming

What do you think about Facebook selling info to third-party companies?

Last week Facebook stated that they are moving forward in allowing third party companies to access users’ addresses and phone numbers.

Although I think what Facebook did is a little sketchy, I have to look at the facts and reiterate that your information, whether you like it or not, is out there.

Last week, huffingtonpost.com posted an article on this issue and while it states that Facebook is giving information to third parties, Facebook is letting users know people will always be in control of what information they share with other websites. Facebook gave the example of selling info to other companies so users will not have to retype personal info when ordering online.

Given that information, if you are already shopping online, chances are a lot of companies already have your info, most likely much more than just an address and phone number. Many stores and websites track your information and buying habits and know when people are most likely going to shop again. They often use the data to target specific audiences and generate a marketing campaign to get customers to buy again.

This idea of selling information to companies is nothing new; people have always had access to your information, even before the Internet. Yes, the Internet has made it easier to search for people, but people forget that phonebooks have been around for a while and have printed the same info Facebook is trying to sell.

Some companies’ sole purpose is to research customers’ buying habits and sell information to different companies in order to create marketing campaigns.

This past summer I worked at a printing company and we would create mail campaigns to send out. Tens of thousands of pieces were mailed and each were targeted to a specific market. The mail delivered everyday is not random; there is an exact science to why you were selected. Whether you like it or not, people know who you are and what you are doing, sometimes better than yourself.

This new uproar also begs the question: Why just now are you worried about privacy? Over the past few years, users on Facebook have been updating their relationship status, likes and dislikes, and whereabouts constantly. Posting stuff online means our privacy is thrown out the window.

With more and more information being displayed online, it leaves us to realize that unless we are living completely off the grid, we cannot get away from it. n