With "smart" apps and media, YOU are the product. Even...
Even in places you really don’t want to.
Check out this recent story, straight from the “you should only have to make up stuff like this” department.
A lawyer was defending a deposition of an absolutely ordinary person, maybe someone just like you: someone who “liked to hang out with her friends and traveled a lot [and] wore a Fitbit to track her fitness level, workouts, and sleep”.
One day, one hand of that person was injured when her car was smashed from behind.
Then, the lawyers of the insurance company for the other driver got full access to her Facebook account, because “it’s now almost impossible to prevent this from happening”.
“Access” included plenty of photos and videos of her holding glasses and other things in the injured hand… mostly posted not by the client, but by some of her contacts, in which she was just “tagged” in.
The defense also claimed full access to all the data from the Fitbit she wore:
It was a fight. They wanted the data as to when she was sleeping, exercising, and anything else they could find.
The Fitbit was a treasure trove of information. They were willing to hire an expensive forensic expert to get the information to defeat her claim.
Your four takeouts from this nightmare
First, the obvious, but never-enough remembered basic truth. Quoting: “you have no right to privacy on any social media platform. The information is free to anyone with subpoena power, and you cannot delete it or get rid of it.”
Second, act now, because you should have really learned this years ago. The screenshot in this post comes from a warning that Fitness Trackers are Changing Online Privacy, and It’s Time to Pay Attention… in 2014.
Third, please note that what that lawyer had to do manually, the networks can do automatically, with users and courts hardly noticing. No wait, they are already doing it.
Fourth, and most worrying, if you ask me, the “tagged” thing: “She posted some of the photos, but most of the photos were ones she was “tagged” in“.
In other words, maybe we care too much that if you use “free” social media and “smart” apps and devices, “you yourself” are the product”.
What you must learn first from that story is that YOUR friends are the product. Even when THEY go to courts.
Yes, taking all this into account leads to controversial Social Cooling. Yes, this also accelerates migrations to totally private networks and service, with all the political threats that such services create right now. And yes, I am repeating myself here. But if it becomes more necessary to say so every year, so be it.