When I was a kid I understood that concern over big brother watching was that the government would be prying into every part of our lives and monitoring what we do. That threat still exists and is encroaching more and more but there are now other “big brothers” that we need to watch out for.
There are two companies that know more about you than you might realize. One is Facebook. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Facebook can tell what sites you’re on, even if you’re no longer logged in to Facebook. The scary part, from my point of view, is what the director of engineering says – what really matters is “What we say as a company and back it up”. But, even if they include this tracking capability in their terms of service, who’s to say they won’t change their terms of service on us?
I’m a big fan of Facebook and use it every day. I leave the browser open and switch back to it at various times. I’m not saying stop using Facebook. I am saying that we, as users of this service, need to be aware of what they are doing and continue to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they aren’t abusing their access to our lives and information.
Right now the biggest “big brother” in my life is Google. Google goes with me everywhere. Google knows where I am at all times. Google knows what I’m searching for, what sites I visit, who my friends are, and a whole lot more. Here are just a few of the ways that Google has access to my (and perhaps your) information:
- My Droid phone has GPS enabled
- I have a Google account on my computer and web history enabled
- Whenever I visit a site with Google Analytics installed, Google has the capability of seeing that it is me visiting the site.
- When I do a search on Google, it provides me local results even if I’m not logged in (tracks my location by my IP address).
- Google serves up personalized ads when I’m reading my gmail account – ads based on the content of the emails. Are they reading my email?
- When I had Google+ on my phone, it AUTOMATICALLY uploaded all videos and images to my account. Think about how interesting that could become!
So as you use these technologies, remember that Big Brother is watching. And decide how to use it accordingly.