Very interesting read. Please read the whole article on the website.
Insisting They Can’t Protect Your Private Info Without More Private Info
Tracking Where You Are (Whether You Like It or Not)
Reading (and Censoring) Your Private Messages
There are two important reasons why constantly announcing your location on the Internet is a bad idea, the first one being that it makes you an easy target for burglars. The second reason is that it’s really annoying. Seriously, shut up for a second.
Location-based social networks are riddled with privacy issues. And you don’t even have to do anything. If you’re using Foursquare, for example, and your account is connected to Twitter, when your friend checks in at a location you’ve checked in at, their post will automatically say they’re at that location with you. Even if you’ve set up your profile so that your location is visible to friends only, there are still ways for it to become public, like making your frequent hangouts available to anyone who figures out your user name or being randomly featured on the page of a place you’ve been to.
But that’s the whole point of sites like Foursquare, right? To let people know where you are? So if you have a problem with that, the obvious solution would be not to use them. This works perfectly fine with Foursquare, but not so much with Facebook Places.
When Facebook offers you the feature, you have two options: “Yes” and “Not now.” If you click “Not now,” you think you’re not using it, but you actually are: It still lets your friends tag you anywhere. And even after you’ve declined being tagged, it will still keep tagging you in the future.
Gmail’s software has filters to prevent spam or viruses, but instead of protecting you, they’re meant to make you buy shit. That’s why whenever you mention going on a trip, Gmail will conveniently show you ads for airline tickets. The filters are weirdly specific: For example, send yourself an email with a bunch of random U2 lyrics (why?) and Gmail will show you ads for U2 concert tickets. Gmail doesn’t recognize every song by every band ever, though we’re strangely pleased to report that it seems to know Queen’s entire catalog.
Gmail users can’t opt out of this feature — the only way to stop Google from turning your conversations into ads is to repeatedly mention sensitive topics like “suicide,” “murder” or “9/11” in the body of an email. Unless you’re willing to have the creepiest email signature ever, that’s not very useful. Still, this is a relatively harmless feature, since no human Google employees actually read your messages. Only the robots.
As usual, Facebook takes things to the next level. Back in 2009, The Pirate Bay added a feature to share torrent links through social networks. Facebook reacted by banning users from linking to the site — not just publicly but also in private conversations. Facebook claims that this isn’t so different from email providers filtering junk mail, but those other providers at least let you read the email and reply to the Nigerian prince asking for your help, should you choose to do so. Facebook simply forbids you from even sending the message, showing you this notice instead:
Also, maybe it’s just us, but doesn’t the fact that Facebook is monitoring private messages sort of disqualify them from being called “private”? And this isn’t a one-time thing: Last year, Facebook banned users from linking to Lamebook.com, a website that posts ridiculous or stupid Facebook exchanges, including in private messages. Who knows what it will ban next? Lamebook isn’t an illegal download site or anything like that; it’s a humor website that makes fun of Facebook. Uh, if writing articles mocking Facebook gets you blocked, guess who else falls under that definition?