Our attention is very expensive and everything is designed around us to grab us by the neck so to speak. Flashing ads, stories and feeds.
I cannot, absolutely cannot, trust Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Facebook, Visa, Amex, MasterCard, etc. These businesses bullshit their way through with “We want to make the world a better place by connecting people.” Yes, that’s great. So charge us for your service and stop forcing me to view ads, selling off my privacy into a giant bidding war of advertisers. Fuck advertisement.
Apple is an exception and I hope they continue to charge premium for their products. I’m happy to shell out money for privacy. But you never know when a multi billion dollar company all of a sudden decides to take a different route. Tim Cook has great personal ethics but we don’t know about the next CEO.
Mark my words: The next big successful companies will be around user privacy. Apple has started to market themselves as such already in their keynotes. Duckduckgo is selling it as their main value proposition.
Edit from comments below:
Amazon, Walmart, Sears, Netflix, Visa, Amex, MC.
And, just to round out the list, Netflix looks like one that’s actually trustworthy. They don’t advertise, and the info they have on me is pretty limited, anyway.
Netflix - I am conflicted between the choice of giving up my privacy to provide better suggestions. How about I actively go research for a particular movie on my own? Why do I need AI telling me what to watch. Word of mouth is a fantastic way to get recommendations. On the other hand, I would have not found interesting music on Spotify if it wasn't for their recommendation system / radio.
> Netflix - I am conflicted between the choice of giving up my privacy to provide better suggestions.
I'm confused by this conflict.
Netflix uses your personal data to help you get more out of the service. An argument could be made that they do this because subscribers then tend to remain subscribers for longer; but the counterargument there is that it is because those subscribers are getting more out of their subscriptions. I struggle to see any scenario where recommendations make people who are getting nothing out of the service stick around.
Apple uses personal data to make recommendations as well, but these are advertisements, because they are recommending additional products for purchase (and typically the products of third parties for which Apple gets a cut).
Is the difference here that Apple asks before they use this information?
> giving up my privacy to provide better suggestions.
The act of watching something on Netflix (or even just surfing the app and not watching anything) constitutes giving up your privacy. Netflix now knows (even if it forces itself to forget) something about you. I don't think it is problematic for a company to use this information to improve its services. I don't think the cynical view–that Netflix does it because it keeps subscribers around for longer–really matters here. I can't imagine a scenario where recommendations convince people to stick around who would otherwise need, except in that they provide a better experience.
The owner of a cafe I frequent knows many things about me and uses them to provide a better service. She will sometimes have my drink waiting for me because she knows what I drink and when I am going to be there. She knows I am not going to skip out on a bill, so she will make my drink out of order and let me pay later when the line has died. Etc. etc. I don't see Netflix recommendations as a whole lot different than that; just less personal.
I think sharing personal information with businesses parallels sharing information with individuals. If I tell a friend something and he starts blabbing it all over time (for free or for pay) or tries to use it against me somehow, we're going to have a problem. The same with Netflix. If they try to use it to manipulate me or they start selling it to third parties: problem. I want to control what I share, with who.
You make this sound like a question of honesty vs pretense, but "what they can get you to binge" reveals a different set of motives. It's sometimes a question of self-control.
I want to be healthy. I also want to eat junk food. What do I "really" want?
Imagine an online grocery store which noticed they could profit more by hiding healthy options from me and selling me more junk.
Would their AI be acting according to my "real taste"? In a sense, yes. Would it be serving my best interests? No.
If Netflix can entice someone to binge watch TV all weekend, does that mean that's what they "really" wanted?
Every AI serves someone's interests. It's important to ask whose.
And if you want to make an AI that truly serves your users (rather than exploiting them), give them explicit control. Stop with this "we know you better than you know yourself" nonsense. Let them say things like, "yes, I watched that movie / bought that candy, but I wish I hadn't. Please don't use that for future recommendations."
What you actually watch.
This is why I hate YouTube recommendations. It feeds my monkey brain.
It's a lost cause fighting advertising.
I think that’s the next move as soon as the technology will be ready.
I guess it doesn't need to be real time, so no super graphic cards are needed... or can it be real time? If a website (e.g. a hotel booking site) uses an ad network with "remarketing" (for this example let's say Google), it can tell Google you just looked for a hotel in Venice, and the next site you visit that has Google's banner ads will advertise "Hotel rooms in Venice!". Imagine looking up sweaters on a clothing site, flipping to Netflix, and an extra walks by that looks like you wearing a sweater that you looked at a minute ago...
General advertising includes the sign on the door or exterior of the brick and mirter storefront, as well as billboards, magazine/newspaper ads, and product placement in media. It ranges from almost entirely informative (on the storefront) to annoying and off-putting (some billboards, poorly done product placement). This advertising is passive.
Individually targeted ads use extra information about the individual to cater the ad, and thus have an incentive to collect this information. This advertising is active, in that it is bidirectional.
Passive advertising not only still provides some benefit for much less harm, it's also hard to distinguish from purely informational materials in some cases.
It's worth distinguishing these to prevent bike-shedding over details that can be safely ignored when we formulate our arguments accurately.
Edit: s/targeted/individually targeted/ to make it more specific and accurate. That is the theme of the comment, after all...
I'm not sure why you would say that. e.g. There's a old silo building overlooking a bay near where I live, opposite a park, which has a huge billboard ad atop it the length of the building, which dominates the skyline. Calling that passive seems odd. It's aggressive, incredibly tasteless, and a symptom of a huge failure of civilization.
edit: And well, this is Sydney. Last night there was a rally at the Sydney Opera House to protest recent events: The head of the Opera House had refused to allow horse-racing ads (!) to be projected onto the sails of the Opera House. A well-known right-wing radio shock-jock got involved, and abusively insisted the ads be shown. Then, incredibly, the Premier of NSW (i.e. the leader of the state) forced the Opera House to back down, and show the ads. There's been widespread incredulity and outrage here about that! So, yeah, it is a problem.
They are annoying (but that's not inherent, it's entirely possible for someone to buy a billbaord and put up a great work of art or something), but they aren't a problem in the same class as the individually targeted advertisements that incentivize massive data collection and correlation projects and privacy violations.
> Then, incredibly, the Premier of NSW (i.e. the leader of the state) forced the Opera House to back down, and show the ads. There's been widespread incredulity and outrage here about that! So, yeah, it is a problem.
I think that's (possibly) a problem, but in a way entirely divorced from the problem of advertising. It depends entirely on the reason. If it was forced because the Opera house if funded with government money, maybe that plays into whether they can/should reject certain ads. I imagine that would play into the discussion in the U.S. (where whether you accept government money affects whether you can legally exclude certain classes of people, to my knowledge).
Group targeting is less of a problem because then they are working on averages and predominant group characteristics, which does not mean any one individual does correspond to those.
For example, a billboard may target an area with a message mainly meant for LGBT people, or for Hispanic people, but living or frequenting that area foes not mean you are LGBT or Hispanic respectively. There is still a level of anonymity there that protects privacy.
I've updated my original comment to make this more clear, so thanks for calling out the ambiguity.
If an ad intends to confuse their audience to think they're purely informational material, they probably should not be shown to anyone. That's a completely different issue, and Facebook's ad censoring step is supposed to deal with that.
It also only works when the advertisers know information about you, and the more they know, the better it works. This presents a perverse incentive to get as much information as possible, even if it's not in the individual's best interest.
To lay it out clearly, it is in an individual's best interest to have relevant ads shown if any ads are going to be shown. It is not in an individual's best interest to have personal, private or even possibly harmful information warehoused at different advertising entities. The tension between these two things is what we're discussing, and I think the harm (or possible harm) from having that personal information aggregated far outweighs the benefits to the individual for targeted advertising. That targeted advertising it also helps the company is of little consequence in this specific equation (that is, should I as an individual want this, but of course matters quite a bit in explaining the status quo).
Largely depends on who you are, I think. I’m not opposed to sharing any of my information with other ad companies
What if it's a disease you just discovered you have, and you don't necessarily have all the information yet? Should you be targeted before you've had time to look into it, much less come to terms with it?
What if you have a child with health problems or are part of a pregnancy that has problems? Would you want companies that might take advantage of the situation to be able to target you?
What if you've just been turned down for a job? Should a for-profit college with poor qualities be able to target you right afterwards?
There are many times when we find ourselves in an altered state of mind (even if slightly) where we are more susceptible to our baser emotions. Do we really need to engineer a system so companies can better identify when we are in these states for their benefit and to our detriment?
It's fine if someone wants to knowingly trade their information away for some benefit, but they should be able to see what they are trading away and make an informed assessment. What we have now doesn't really allow for that, and once it's out there, it generally has little to no value later (once you're marked as an ex-con, good luck getting that our of everyone's data sets).
If the ad is interesting and relevant enough (which is very rare), the next action would be researching the product online, and very occasionally I'd be super happy to know about it. It sounds absurd if anybody would make important decisions like deciding what treatment to get for health problems based on what people say in ads without doing proper research and consulting doctors.
Of course now advertisers are looking to ultrasonic beacons to get around the lack of targeting and data collection, but for the most part product placements aren't the malicious and disruptive advertisements we've become victims of.
A major branch of Russia and China's attack is the ongoing negative PR campaign against tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. Can these companies improve? Sure. But their infractions are incredibly minor compared to the dictatorships rising in Russia, China, Turkey, etc that are murdering foreign citizens as well as large numbers of their own. They are stealing billions of dollars from their own citizens and taking the world down a terrifying path.
Please reconsider the easy targets of tech companies and have the courage to face true evil in these dictatorships.
People have been conforming to the norms of whatever group they're in for millennia. They're not going to stop now.
However, I do think that the narrative is already being talked about in the US/Europe with GDPR, congressional testimony of CEOs and major focus on privacy leaks. Hopefully there will be government action.
I don't know about China, India, Africa/etc. It is absolutely sickening what Facebook tried to do in India with "Free" internet for all. Thankfully, it was shot down at the government level.
I would argue that my viewpoint is missing the extra expansion in APEC, but looking at the revenue numbers and big companies like Apple promoting privacy is an evidence of where the world is going to go.
Apple is indeed invested in the "we care about your privacy" narrative. Probably not our of the goodness of their hearts. It differentiates them from the competition even more and is yet another justification for their premiums. I agree with you, they're the good guys for now.
I downloaded my Facebook history when they provided such a feature, and was completely unable to find anything interesting. Why would I care if they would protect my privacy or not. If protecting privacy leads to much worse user experience, I'd rather they don't
It may not be boring for your future employer or future DEA investigator or future parallel-constructed investigation case agent in case you have a funny name or non judeochristian religion or your cousin is an environmental activist.
All easily searchable, in a convenient hyperlinked online dossier, forever.
> If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him. Cardinal Richelieu
In my experience, the amount of people that care are simply ignorant of what's going on in ad tech, of no fault of their own. They are tech consumers, raising families, working 9-5, living their life.
We are the tech creators, we need to be looking out for them in addition to ourselves. How can we say they don't care when they simply don't understand?
Also, I simpatize with your last sentence but you must understand that consumers expect a lot of software to be free, nowadays. It's really hard to compete with free so I don't blame companies who go the FB route.
People do care about their privacy - absolutely - and that 'care' is increasing. That said, I definitely agree with 'bubbletink'.
"Privacy is not a product, it's a feature" is generally what I say, unless it's literally some kind of 'id securing' product you're selling. By that I mean, for a social network or any other non-security product, what users care about most is ease of use, cost, features, access to friends, hype/cool factor ... and then privacy is just one of those later tick-boxes.
So I don't even think that a 'privacy first' Social Network will really take off unless it offers something else, more salient as it's primary offer, with 'privacy' just happening to be a really nice add-on, or better yet, something inherent or existential about the product or architecture.
Also, I do think people are 'voting with their feet' as a lot of folks are switching to things like Instagram, wherein it's just some photos, the ability to message, and not a lot of the deep banter and political stuff. Just fashion, kiddies, kittens, celeb-selfies, and a lot less dialogue. This 'trend' is in a way inherently more private because it implies considerably less personal information, and considerably more default-private activity.
Also remember that Snapchat got big because of 'disappearing videos'. It wasn't just 'stories' - it was 'stories that disappear' and can't be searched! A little bit of sexting innuendo there, but an inherent 'privacy' nature to that.
In then end, we should also consider that many of us (esp. your Eng friends) are not stupid, and may just opt to use FB in a fairly minimalist fashion, i.e. not sharing too-too much.
I used FB in that manner and I make no assumptions about what they are 'learning' about me, and frankly, I don't care that much.
Apple is just not a data/social company - and so this new 'privacy trend' fell on their laps just about the same way the blockchain stuff fell on NVidia. It's a movement that is consistent with their current business model, and so it behoves them to continue in that direction and even support it.
But yes, fully agree, most of us have quite a different perspective than 'joe user' we have to consider that.
People DO care about their privacy. However, due to the market dominance of platforms like FB and others, they have no real reasonable alternatives due to lack of competition. So they have to choose between tolerating FB's practices or going with another service with worse UX and/or fewer features.
Maybe that is going to change if there is more awareness around privacy, but then the big companies are going to adjust. You said we can't trust ANY advertisement company. I presume you mean companies funded by advertisement revenue. But then you actually give the counter example yourself: DuckDuckGo.
I don't think the people that work at DDG and Apple are more trustworthy, but it's in their interest to take a pro-privacy stance. It differentiates them in the market. If the public cared more about privacy and would be willing to pay for it, existing companies would care about it too and potentially change their revenue models.
Apple is rapidly approaching the status of being a luxury goods brand. They certainly charge luxury goods prices. This implies that privacy is a luxury good.
That isn't wrong, in a strictly factual and financial sense. There's money to be made invading privacy that certainly can help defray device costs.
It's possible that some might opine that this might be less than fully right in an ethical sense, however...
Everything is networked, and anyone with LS (maybe other tools exist, but LS certainly serves my needs well) can see how many times actions are taken in the form of outgoing requests on your primary content-creation/programming device that isn't just a passive device meant to consume content, and few people have the ability to participate as independent producers of gateways. And on a cell, you have zero visibiility at all. Its a different discussion, but the last time I looked, static IP on your "home" connection - $500 one time fee, and reasonable gigabit speeds in the age of new content? $200/mo.
It is a farce that in 2018 Northeastern ISPs get away with 17Mb/s. You have to pay another gatekeeper when in principle I am another node on the network and have all the computers I would possibly need to run a high-availability web service.
But back to la Pomme. They specifically push software updates to individual devices when you reach a certain expense level and cause devices to malfunction deliberately so you have to replace it. This has been documented but the IP lawyers shut you down when you start to talk about it because trade secrets.
When they see you don't have AppleCare (or AppleCare+, or AppleCare++, whatever they want to call it) on a device they will deliberately cause that device to malfunction using a device-specific OTA update that causes things like dead pixels, and other visible obstructions that make the device slightly less usable than it was before.
There is no privacy. If the above isn't the ultimate abrogation of privacy then I don't know what is. And if youre a pure Internet company, then you just don't even have to bother with all those gymnastics since the backend code is yours.
Consumers need to start demanding more visibility into what exactly a company is doing. If they knew, I'm sure they would be outraged at the constant lies they are told. The charade has reached unbelievable proportions.
Citation? I haven't seen any indication that this has happened to any of the Apple devices I've used, over quite a number of years.
Same bullshit, different context. We have no way of knowing for sure because there are no accepted network traffic monitors and no packet-sniffing capabilities with iPhones or iPads. But my iPad started developing mysterious problems the day after the warranty expired and a line of dead pixels appeared on a device that was never shocked physically in any manner, and was sitting most of the time on a table next to my couch.
I'm glad it hasn't happened to you. Lucky you.
Many people (including myself) are fine with the price we pay for free online services and understand the downsides. I really don't mind companies trying to show me more relevant ads by tracking and analyzing what I interact with in return for most of the products I use being free.
Obviously a large group of people does either not understand the implications or does not think they are worth the services but I think it's wrong to assume you know what's best for every user.
I believe very few people (if any) actually understand the downsides of having a vast amount of personal data aggregated on every user. All the assumptions below are false:
* I know exactly what information on me is given to 3rd parties by online services.
* The 3rd parties can provide 100% guarantee that my personal information will remain secure and won't be stolen by hackers or unlawfully traded by an employee.
* Even if it gets stolen, there is no way my personal information can be used for identity theft or socially engineered account takeover.
* There is no way private aspects of my life (browsing history, online purchases, direct messages, etc.) can become publicly available.
What about insurance companies providing you a quote based on your online habits? Browsing car modification forums and then all of a sudden your car insurance goes up.
What about location based privacy?
What about government powers being able to exploit existing advertisement data infrastructure for law enforcement purposes?
Sure, seeing a new camera ad on instagram is harmless but the overreaching possibilities of sacrificing privacy are deep, profound for the society. There are so many aspects, I've just put forth a few above.
This is more than enough people to encourage public policy makers to make appropriate policy decisions, and failing that, run for office.
Are you a squeaky wheel? If not, make yourself one.
Sorry if it sounds offensive, but I feel that we (hacker news crowd) really overestimate ourselves. Each one of our votes has the same weight as the rest of the population.
This also means in Presidential elections our votes count less as well.
It's sad that this wave of nationalist and right-wing mentality is taking over the world, Brazil being the latest example. My worst fear is that someone like, or worse, than Hitler will have to come along until this trend reverses itself.
Am I so out of touch? No it must be 99% of people who are wrong.
What exactly is the value of privacy besides the satisfaction that big tech companies aren't making as much money from me?
> What exactly is the value of privacy besides the satisfaction that big tech companies aren't making as much money from me?
1. Where does that money that they are making come from?
2. The value of privacy is that without it there is no personal autonomy. Without privacy, you lose all power over your life.
How about knowing that someone is not being deported from a port of entry based on what they posted on Facebook 6 months ago?
EDIT: Damn, F Adobe
I recommend taking some time to research DMPs and their place ad-tech ecosystem, if you're not aware about them, and be prepared to shit your pants at what they know about you.
Edit: changed link from wsj to tc
Easy to say this if you have the money to pay for it which the vast majority of Americans do not.
What a world we live in. The problem is not that average person doesn’t have money, the problem is that these advertising giants have gotten people to expect that online services should be free (but in exchange for privacy).
Microsoft is likely about the telemetry stuff happening in Windows 10. They're not supported by ads, but the tracking baking into the OS is a non-starter for a lot of tech folks.
EDIT: I'd be happier to hear why I'm incorrect in the place of downvotes.
Who writes this stuff!?
A basic friends-only system isn't that expensive to run. A low-budget operation like Craigslist could do it with a modest staff. A low fee or infrequent ads could bring in enough revenue to keep it running.
The expense depends on what the baseline for "basic" is.
I believe today's average consumer would want basic features to include photos and video sharing. (This consumer expectation having been conditioned by previous $0/month social networks like Facebook.) Needless to say, this requires expensive datacenters with petabytes of harddrives. Rising storage infrastructure costs and was the #1 driver of Facebook costs in 2006. It may still be today. I don't know. I believe storage is still Snapchat's biggest cost component of Google Cloud payments.
So either run a text version of a social network or put storage limits to keep the social network "cheap" to run. My guess is that the typical non-HN type of user would prefer the ads so it's still $0 per month with the ability to share lots of baby photos.
Now a "Freemium" app might work. Text is free. Pictures up to a limit are free. A few seconds of video with an expiration time is free. More pictures, longer video, and long term storage all cost.
Fortnite is "freemium", and bringing in over $1BN a year without ads.
You could also treat brand pages as what they really are: advertising. Charge them a weekly/yearly fee to have the ability to run such a page.
The technical aspects of such a service are trivial. People try to build new social media sites every day. The problem is building up a network effect. Getting to the scale of Facebook may not ever be possible again for a small startup because the friction for switching services is so great. Until there is some massive technological leap like the internet again, there's really nothing compelling enough for the average person to bother.
I'd really love to see a resurgence of blogs, but any replacement for Facebook needs adequate answers to the kind of questions that blogs always left unanswered.
I think you'd have a hard time finding people that would believe that infrequent ads would remain infrequent.
Well, that, and the other thing FB got really really good at: I hardly use FB for friends. I use it to track all sports/music/scenes I'm interested in. It has become my number one source for tracking events. There's, as far as I know, nothing which comes closes in aggregating all of that.
So if he's not adding new information the only info he's giving them is by what events he clicks which is still valuable.
And then of course if he browses the web with the facebook cookie that probably gives them a significant amount of browser habits, no? Which i feel like really doesn't get enough attention.
If they add nothing to their profile, and don't browse the web with facebook cookies aren't they not really losing much of worth? If they've made the conscientious decision that event data is worth the events calendar?
Don't make them go search on meetup or eventbrite like a neanderthal.
Remember the beacon fiasco? That was the start of the pattern, the fact that they were so baffled by everyone's reaction was so amazing to me that was the month I deleted my account and never looked back. But they haven't changed one bit since 2007.
I'm sorry but what would the point of this be? A social network is only as useful as it's centralization.
I can only assume they earn most of their money via YT Monetization or with their own ads in video.
I urge men and women of good conscious to do the same.
Everyone has a different definition of "legitimate source" these days.
If there has ever been a case for the existence of Free Will, FB membership only supports it. Human freedom is not proven by the great and lofty choices we make, but by the truly shitty and questionable ones.