Friday, April 13, 2018

Facebook and Washington

So Mr. Zuckerberg went to Washington, and the meme creators kicked into high gear.

I did not watch his testimony, and I don't plan to.

Is this really about Cambridge Analytica?  I don't think so.  

If you use or have used Facebook, did you really think you were getting a secure private place to hangout with your friends?  Did you really believe that changes, updates and features are rolled out one after the other for free have no downside?

A few days a week I stop into a local coffee shop called The Brew.  I have a cup of coffee (black) and I sit and type these blogs, answer emails, read the news etc.  The barista is a nice lady who knows what coffee I like and sometimes has it waiting for me by the time I get to the counter.

I have given up a small bit of money and privacy for this.  I pay for the coffee along with a tip, plus I have given her information that she has stored (Jeff = Black Large Coffee).   Now I paid for the coffee and tip for the service.  However, she could start a VIP or frequent customer program where I give her my email and phone number.   Now she is able to send me coupons, notices of entertainment nights, or other incentives for me to come in more often than I already do.  When I do then I spend money and use the VIP card.  This information can be stored, tracked and used to send me more targeted advertisements.   I have know exchanged information to save money.  Or I hope I have.  Now let's say someone comes to the coffee shop and offers her money for her customer data.  She says, "no thanks".

Then they offer her more, and then another offer. Eventually she gives in and some marketing company in Europe knows what kind of coffee I like, maybe what kind of snacks or food.   They know how often I like these things, they know my average amount spent.  Is this worth the money I possibly saved?

Many stores do this.  Best Buy Rewards, hotel rewards, Khols bucks... etc. Why do they do this? Just to show they like you?  No, they want your information, data, statistics.  Your preferences, for demands.  They can figure out a lot.  Your probably income per year, wether your married, have kids, conservative or liberal.  Think of all the information Amazon has on you from you orders, from your shopping even when you don't purchase.

Now let's say they offer free coffee.  Free coffee, good coffee, as much coffee as I want 24 hours a day , 7 days a week.  But they want my email and text message passwords?  Is it worth it?  No person will ever read it themselves, but program will log in and store the data so more coffee, food and activity adds can be sent to me.  Is this worth free coffee everyday, all day?

This is what Facebook does.  Ever notice when you shop online the ads for that product start appearing in you feed? I recently had a Facebook Messenger conversation, not a timeline entry a "private" communication, where I made a joke about one of my dogs needing a doggy CPAP.  When I opened Facebook back up, CPAP adds.

Any thought you had of privacy on Facebook is a delusion.  However,  Facebook has never hid the fact that they sell access.  Access to your eyes.  It is the evolution of advertising. Each person sees the ads that their data says they want to see.  It is the business plan.  Why else do you think it is free? Getting upset at Facebook for mining your data is like getting mad a dog for sniffing another dog's butt.  It may be unpleasant to watch,  but it's all part of owning a dog.  You might as well convince yourself that they are exchanging recipes.  It makes as much sense as pretending Facebook exists to let you have your privacy.

So why the big deal in Washington?

I think its all part of the game.  They don't want us thinking about the $1/3 trillion dollar spending bill that was just passed.  They don't want you thinking of the real cost of a missile war in Syria. Teachers are on strike, Obama care continues to be less effective at keeping medical costs down.  Opioids are killing people, and those that don't die and forced off what they are now addicted to with little or no idea how to proceed without breaking the law.  Slight of hand on a national level.  Get everyone is an uproar about Facebook with one hand so they don't see what the other hand is doing.

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