Friday , March 5 2021

Zuckerberg is dropping the veil: what happens to our data

Beep beep. There is a notification and a green sticker on our smartphone. Then another one. And one more. Ten years after his arrival Whatsapp entered our routines. “Good morning, coffee” to a colleague, “how are you?” mother, “good night” to the distant partner. But also advice, meetings, bursts: our life passes through blue check marks, a symbol of communication in the 10s of the millennium. The ritual is so common now that we forget that since 2014, a 36-year-old American made our data his empire to allow it.

Yes, because by now we know what we are doing Facebook e Instagram it is tracked, analyzed by a superbrain, and correlated with millions of other data used to offer advertisements tailored for us (not always with good results, to be honest), to create new needs and even to try to influence us. This is marketing 2.0, baby.

But now the veil is falling on what you always suspected, but Zuckerberg has always denied. In other words, data is not limited to the servers on which it is stored. As in standalone applications. But they allow us to profile better. Anyone who does not comply with these terms is excluded from use.

The messages received in recent days were enough for almost everyone to expose him. “WhatsApp updates its terms and disclosures Confidentiality“. Nothing new. But this time the last offer looks a bit like blackmail: after February 8, 2021, it will be impossible to use the platform without accepting the new terms of service.

In fact, every time we download an app or create an account, we are forced to accept terms of service, which we probably don’t even read. So why are we outraged? Because this time we’re talking directly about data processing… And after analyzing the new rules, it turned out that soon the data – only those that interact with WhatsApp Business, as they guarantee – will be managed and stored using Facebook tools.

What does this mean? What so far has only been assumed will come true: all companies in the Zuckerberg galaxy will have access to our data. In the case of WhatsApp, therefore, also the phone number, email address, contacts, location, etc. All information that he already has, but which – at least formally – he can no longer cross with the information received from Facebook and Instagram. The veil fell, we said. It doesn’t matter if they have repeated over the course of several days that only interactions with companies will be “in danger”. That is, with the millions of business accounts already on the platform, from May 16th we will be able to better profile us. Maybe also based on how many hairdressers we talk to throughout the year …

After all, they also admit it: if cifratura end to end interferes with reading the content of chats with friends and family, this does not happen with conversations with companies: “Whether you communicate with the company by phone, email, or WhatsApp, they may track and use this information for marketing purposes, which may include Facebook advertising“To put it simply: if you get in touch with the aforementioned hairdresser often, it’s likely that his sponsored posts will be among the sponsored posts we’ll see. And they will relate to the procedures we most often request.

For several days now, an image has been circulating that shows that messaging apps know about us. And it’s very frustrating to see the long list of permissions we give Messenger. List that will soon be integrated with WhatsApp.

Of course, we Europeans are – at least for now – safe: even if the Guarantor got everyone’s attention, the EU privacy law is much stricter than the rest of the world, and the GDPR does not allow us to provide everything by clicking on “I accept I agree.” However, this story marks a new course and takes place at a time when major tech companies are accused of restricting freedom. users… What many even considered the “digital far west” was at the mercy of the silent masters who could “turn off” the megaphone they gave users in a matter of moments. Theme Freedom of expression and neutrality has been debated since the advent of the world wide web, so far more about technical issues than changing the way we communicate (who runs the infrastructure). But over time, what may have seemed like a great “prairie” has been filled with several companies that really hold our digital life in their hands. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon are in the lead. Private companies that give their rules on their platforms. The rules that, we repeat, we accept when we subscribe to their services.

They have always been thought of as “containers” into which the contents were poured. They were pointed out when they became instruments of intimidation, hatred and violence. They were asked to check what was dropped onto the platforms. But it’s the dog chasing its tail: who controls the controller? And here we see how Trump was stuck at the moment of his fall (why not earlier?). We resent when photos of a nursing mother or a famous painting are censored. This is the end of the myth about the Internet as a symbol of freedom.

In a small part, the Whatsapp story is a symbol of what is happening and raises questions that, for now, perhaps too often hidden. “If you don’t pay for a product, you are a product,” the documentary drama recalls. Social dilemma that just a few months ago he tried – without much success in our opinion – to tackle the subject. But is it right to “give” our lives to those who use them to sell us to the highest bidder? It depends on what you are willing to “give”. And above all, if you do it with the awareness of what is happening “behind the scenes”, without being surprised if you call, perhaps on The messenger, a specific product and only related sponsorships are noticed within a few days.

So what about the infamous WhatsApp message? Even if in Europe – for now – there are small changes, the principled idea of ​​abandoning the platform is legitimate. There are several alternatives, from Telegram to Signal. But keep in mind that in theory they will have access to the same data (although they will also have to change their terms of service to do so). The most important thing is to convince everyone you know to move to the same place … Zuckerberg gave it another three months.

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