Carolyn The Curmudegeon Rides Again!

Privacy Matters

Boy, Facebook Home. You might as well go live at FB. Does anyone REALLY think that having FB embedded in your phone’s OS is a good thing? Anyone who doesn’t work for FB, that is. I don’t believe for even one second that FB wouldn’t be accessing ALL your phone calls. ALL your location information, every single thing you ever do on your phone. It will take about 10 seconds for someone to be heinously embarrassed or shamed after FB automatically uploads all their pictures (because you know that would be the default behavior) and shares them on their profile, or worse, someone else’s pictures of you get uploaded to their timeline… whether you consented to the photo or not.

Don’t think for even a second that this “app” was designed to be anything but a way for FB to exploit you. It has nothing to do with “If you build it they will come” and everything to do with “how can FB make a shitload of money?”

“Real” Identities

Google, FB and many, many others want people operating in their environment to be “real” people. They don’t permit “fake” names. And it’s not because fake accounts can be spammers and other unsavories. It’s because the data they mine from us is FAR more valuable when it can be folded under the umbrella of a single person who buys stuff.

Here’s the problem, and in my opinion, it’s one that is disproportionally harmful to women. People operate in spheres: there’s a private one — what we do when we’re not at work, what we do when we’re at work, or when we are operating in some other space: people like writers, actors or musicians.

Women are more likely need to shield themselves from violent men. We are more likely to be threatened and harassed online and off. Women are more in need of ensuring their online activities don’t endanger them physically.

Carolyn Jewel, the person who is many things besides a writer, should not be made to reveal any aspects of her non-writing life to public spaces unless private Carolyn explicitly consents. And by consent I don’t mean, I decide I have no choice. Someone like, say, Remittance Girl, whose public persona is deliberately Remittance Girl and not whoever she is in real life, should not be forced to publicly attach her actual identity to that public space because Google+ says she has to.

I have myself, in my writing life, received disturbing communications from violent men. Yes, because when someone writes to me from death row, I am entitled to assume they are there because they are violent. And some of those men are not on death row, they’re just in a Federal Penitentiary. I have also received communications from people who are not mentally stable. Readers, well intentioned though they may have, have shown at at the homes of writers.

I have, in my private life, had encounters with men who are violent and abusive to women, and I have had employers who have not acted to protect my safety. (“Oh, he doesn’t mean anything by that!”)

Men sitting in corporate offices attempting to monitize their social application have no idea at all about what it means to be forced to share and, I am willing to bet, have not spent even five minutes wondering if maybe they’re developing policies and practices that endanger women. They don’t because their gender is, by and large, not a part of unacceptable statistics regarding violence against them. (They are, however, the gender overwhelmingly responsible for the violence.) They have never, ever walked down the hallway to their offices hoping that the creep coming the opposite way isn’t going to do his famous “oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to brush up against you!” They have never had to worry that giving a personal email address to a stranger opens the door to harassment.

I know an author who, at a signing, had a man come up and give her a photograph of his penis. I was there when it happened. I saw him. I saw her reaction and how frightened she was. And so was I, because, maybe he’d fixated on her at that time, but a man with a screw loose like that didn’t make me feel very safe.

The Spheres

I heard a marketing person on the radio talking about how great targeted advertising is, how useful and wonderful it is, and why we should all be eager to see this in place

Well, let me give you an example of why not. I was writing along and then I decided to have my heroine wear Crocs. But, I realized, I had only the vaguest idea of what Crocs look like. So I googled, saw some pictures, and went back to my story — with my heroine wearing different shoes. For two weeks I’d go to a site and get shown pictures of Crocs. Not only was that “targeted” advertising incredibly annoying, it was also the exact opposite of effective and it bore ZERO relation to the kind of shoes I might want to buy.

First off, if I’d actually been shopping for Crocs, and was at some shoe site, why later show me ads for shoes I probably already bought? This has happened before. I bought a 4TB external hard drive. For two weeks after, I got shown ads for external drives and that was a waste. I bought the damn drive already.

Second off, in my personal opinion, Crocs are not the fashion choice for me. (So if a user Googles “Crocs” and goes to sites and DOES NOT BUY anything — wouldn’t it be just as possible that the person has decided NOT to purchase them?)

Third off, having been shown so many ads for Crocs, I now actively hate them. HATE THEM. Right now this minute I am thinking hateful thoughts about Crocs.

Please leave one of us alone

Carolyn Jewel, Author is not Carolyn Jewel. I want a firewall between my private life and my public one, and companies like Google and FB are actively seeking to prevent that without offering me any protection from the consequences.

The conversation needs to start from Here is the personal privacy individuals have, how do we monitize our app without compromising that? Not, how much can we force our users into giving us with or without their knowledge.

I wouldn’t be on FB at all in my private life if FB didn’t REQUIRE it for an author page. I feel the same about Google+ and just about every other social media out there.

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