Some people call it implied or assumed consent, others call it evil. Assumed consent works like this: a company (for now the trend seems to be in social media) assumes that by using their service, you automatically consent to anything they decide to do regarding your personal information stored on their site. They can sell it to businesses, wishing to market to your demographic or you specifically, they can even use your likeness to advertise their product or service to your friends.
Facebook, Google & Apple Get Caught
Facebook is no doubt the “King of Assumed Consent,” and much ado has been made of their privacy practices (most recently over imported contact information) though not with any substantial change to the growth of their platform. Because of that, other players are following suit.
It’s not that there aren’t people like me (and maybe you), concerned about the issues of privacy and consent –just not enough to stop using these services, because “everybody’s on there.”But at least, there are some willing to stand up and be vocal enough to draw attention to it.
Back in April, the New York Times reported that, “A furor erupted after reports that the companies (Google and Apple) were engaging in secretive location tracking using customers’ iPhone and Android cellphones.”
LinkedIn Uses You to Sell
The newest player in the game of assumed consent appears to be LinkedIn (LI), a SoMe site that is growing in popularity and is seen by many B2B users as the ultimate social media platform. As a celebration of their success, LinkedIn recently revamped their profile pages and snuck in a little assumed consent in while they were at it, allowing LI to use your name and photo in 3rd-party advertising, much like Facebook using your likeness to advertise to your friends. UPDATE: LI Backs off Ad Scheme Over Pricey Gaffe
Personalization: Beneath the Bright and Shiny lies a Darkness
All of these companies are serving up this dish of subterfuge behind the mask of a rather brilliant marketing concept, touted as “personalization”. I mean who doesn’t want to feel important and have things tailored or personalized, to their tastes, needs and desires? But what many who are excited about this idea just don’t get is just how easily you’re handing over the keys to your kingdom, your wallet and quite possibly — your freedom and privacy. They seem also, to be oblivious to the ramifications of personalization in the shaping of your world view and the information that reaches you.
For those of you who wonder, who might be selling and buying your information and why, here’s a little video from Rapleaf, one of the major purveyors of your information as commodity, that explains it well — though from the “It’s good for you,” perspective.
Assumed Consent in the Real World
The thing is, assumed consent works nowhere else in this world. If you assume consent in the business world you leave yourself open for lawsuits or for not being paid. At the hospital or physician’s office there are copious amounts of forms that must first be signed before treatment, sharing of information, decision making or even billing your insurance can take place. If you assume the girl you took out to dinner has given you consent for sex when she agreed to the date — you’ll find yourself in jail.
We are warned about these kinds of nefarious assumptions in our lives and about giving away our power and control without reading the fine print first. We’re instructed to watch out for our own best interests — at least if you want to make smart decisions and have control of your life and/or your business.
So why, suddenly, with the advent of social media, is it supposed to be “all good.” As if entities like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn are looking out for us.
It’s some savvy marketing. People willing to “trust” that what these social sites, search engines, apps and technology companies are doing is harmless, without question and without outrage at their assumed consent. In fact, this week, on a discussion about this in an LI group I take part in, someone actually asked : “Is this necessarily a bad thing?” To which I say, if you’re not sure, I think it’s important you to find out.
It’s sort of the same reason, I won’t wear a t-shirt with a brand name on it — why? Because why should I pay to advertise for them? I mean that’s some slick marketing, they’ve sold you the brand so well that it’s now a status symbol to be seen with their brand across your chest — and you’ll pay for the privilege to do just that. SoMe platforms have imbued themselves with a certain panache as well, a sort of grown-up peer pressure. (Mock horror) “You’re not on Facebook? How do you live?” or “How do you market your business?”
We don’t trust most of our institutions anymore, whether that’s the media, our healthcare system or our government — so why are we all willing to hand over the reigns so blithely to guys like Zuckerberg, who make no pretenses about it — they’re in it for the money. And how do you think you make money on something that is “free,” and has turned out to be such an effective marketing tool? You either charge the people using the tool or you sell their information on the back-end. It’s that simple.
I don’t know about you but using my likeness to sell anything, requires my absolute, not assumed, consent and that I be adequately compensated for that endorsement.
I’m not saying dump social media altogether and run off to a shack in the mountains with no running water and only your manifesto to keep you warm — but I am suggesting that you keep an eye on what is being done to your privacy and your future access to vital information. New media is developing rapidly, everyday and we all need to pay close attention to where it is taking us in its rush to be the next great thing.
By staying informed, aware and speaking up for your rights, you can help shape the future of new media. Acting as its conscience and ensuring that we all get what we want, without sacrificing our identity, privacy and freedoms.
Here’s how to “Opt-out” of LinkedIn’s Indentured Marketing Servitude:
In your account settings, there is a box that the good people at LinkedIn have automatically checked for you, which gives your permission…even though no one asked you.
1. Log into your account.
2. Click on your name (upper right corner).
3. Click on Settings.
4. Select Account.
5. Click on “Manage Social Advertising”
6. Uncheck the box next to “LinkedIn may use my name, photo in social advertising”