Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Google and Facebook Move Forward With User Targeted Advertising And Integration But At What Cost?

I am sure most of you out there have seen the new disclaimer on Google's website warning of their new privacy policy and user integrated experience. Maybe you have seen more ads on Facebook becoming more a kin to recent searches you have made or pages you have liked. Maybe you have even read about Open Graph Action Spec Targeting which allows Facebook to target ads based on apps you use or content you post, like Spotify posting whatever song you are currently listening to. Welcome to the New Internet, ads using cookies specifically targeted towards you based on what apps you use, what sites you visit, your demographics, what geographical locations you visit or live, socioeconomic standing, what you search for, buy, music you listen, etc. Now in many ways this will make a more user friendly experience, for example no more having to log in to multiple accounts within the Google family of sites from Google+ to Gmail, Youtube to Blogger and of course regular old Google. The question begs, with new ever evolving rules on privacy from Google and Facebook, is a better more convenient user experience worth the loss of privacy and anonymity?

Google in recent days has also announced that it will follow Twitters lead and censor some content on blogger at the behest of certain countries. Twitter had initially caused an uproar by announcing that it would remove user posted tweets that were illegal in said country but would allow it to be seen in other countries. Is this a brave new world we are moving toward? With the recent hearings on SOPA and PIPA, as well as the shut down of MegaUpload it feels more and more that government and big business are increasingly pushing towards tightening its grip around the once free medium of internet. Google supposedly adheres to the company mantra of "don't be evil" but one wonders how closely they continue to follow this?

These issues not only raise questions of the issue of privacy relating to corporations, businesses and government entities having access to our every move on the internet but cyber-criminals as well. Many may recall the cyber attacks by a Chinese based group called Aurora which took place from June 2009 in through the Christmas holiday of that year, which infiltrated 200+ companies including Google. What is to say that something similar could still not happen and now with a more integrated user experience and Facebook and Google at the helm for targeting (The group Anonymous just targeted Facebook over the weekend) that could make your personal information more easily accessible by hackers. No word in the disclaimer mentions what further measures would be taken to ensure integration does not make hackers gaining access to your information easier. Google has become far more secure since the Aurora attacks but all these questions.

Google and Facebook Move Forward With User Targeted Advertising And Integration But At What Cost?

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