In the documentary, Terms & Conditions May Apply, filmmaker Cullen Hoback magnifies the fine print of the terms & conditions contracts we agree to day after day, app after app.
After the watching the film, I felt pretty conflicted. I am someone who uses technology very regularly, probably more than the average person. When I'm on my way to work, I'm streaming Spotify, checking emails, sending texts, and refreshing Twitter. For work, it's nothing but emails, client social media, copywriting, meetings, and taking photos. All of my tasks and responsibilities involved connecting with the world around me using the Internet. With that much data flowing to and from my phone and laptop, there is information for someone to quickly learn my purchasing habits, my caffeine addiction, what classes I'm taking, what I like to read, etc.
Concerning, right? My first thought was "Not so much." I keep a pretty tight lid on what I share on social media and I stay away from discussing controversial topics. Don't get me wrong- I have opinions. I have lots of them, in fact. But I've seen too many social media mishaps from others who've shared their thoughts, only to have them backfire. I also am not a working professional who handles classified information like the FBI.
But then I remembered Instagram and the dispute about the social media platform having the ability to take a user's images without consent and use them for advertisements or whatever Instagram wants to do with them. I mean, that's what the terms & conditions grants them. I also remembered the information I store for my freelance clients. Sure, it's not classified like an FBI document would be, but it's stuff my clients don't want out there for everyone to know. I then remembered the number of "vent sessions" I've had with my girlfriends on Facebook chat or over text message. Is that something I really want publicized?
Every single thing you do on the Internet is being tracked. Some individuals in the marketing and advertising world will say it is to grant you a better product experience; to help you discover the products and services you're actually looking through by knowing exactly what you like and want. The government will tell you it's to keep you and the country safe from terrorists. But to protect us from terrorists, does that mean we have to monitor everyone? Is my regular trips to Starbucks something the government would be interested in keeping track of? What about my recent hour-long conversation with my best friend about the frustrations in my life?
If you're like me and think you don't have anything to hide, just take a moment to reflect on the multitude of platforms you use to communicate with the world around. Think about when and where you use your credit/debit card(s). Think about your GPS, your phone, even that handy Fitbit you just got. I'm sure it's keeping track of more than just your steps.
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