The biggest lie you tell every day

…Is “Yes, I have read the terms and conditions.” This is because, well, in the famous words of Sweet Brown,

But perhaps people are going to reconsider that one. The recent iCloud hacking scandal resulting in celebrities having private photos sprawled across the web has caused global chaos.

The leaking of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence in particular has people asking two questions. The first question is irrelevant and unnecessary and goes something along the lines of “why would you even have nude pictures of yourself saved?” And the second, more important question is “what do you mean Google/YouTube/Facebook is already spying on us all the time anyway?”

Yes, while the hacking is not only intrusive, violating and a crime, it is also a rude awakening for many to hear that these big data companies also have access to everything you search, share and even own the pictures you upload.

Screen shot 2014-09-04 at 2.38.33 PM
Max Schrems’ 1,222 files. (Mitew, 2014)

“Okay, yeah, but so what? They’ll never really do anything with your information though,” I hear people say all the time. But if you look at Max Schrems’ case in 2011 where he requested Facebook send him every piece of personal information they had on him, he received 1,222 pages of content. From personal messages, to pages liked, to search history to GPS tracking, it was all there. Or in slightly more extreme cases, you could look at Pedro Bravo, who allegedly murdered his roommate in 2012 and then proceeded to asked his iPhone assistant Siri where to hide the body. Needless to say, this information was tracked and used against him. So, if information about you was ever needed, it’s all tucked away for future references. Our Internet and mobile phone use have become a human tracking system.

Discussing this further with peers and tutor alike, we concluded that as users of Google or Facebook, we are the product. The information extracted from our Internet use is packaged and sold as content to whoever will pay for it as needed. This is evident by just looking at Google’s terms and services which state:

“Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

So… basically we own our content but really Google does too. Looking at Mitew’s (2014) feudalism analogy, Google is the lord who owns the land, or space, on the Internet and as users, we are the vassals who may have our own space, but ultimately we work in allegiance to the lords. What is interesting is that while we work for our own survival and wealth in allegiance to the data lords, they simultaneously live off our labour.

After taking a closer look at the concept of iFeudal and terms and agreements of data companies such as Google, are you inclined to alter the content you upload and share on the Internet? Why or why not? 


9 thoughts on “The biggest lie you tell every day

  1. th773

    Great example with the recent leaks! With the question, I’d say that its a bit hard to constantly filter yourself in regards to companies tracking your data. This is mostly because this technology has become so ingratiated into our day to day lives that it doesn’t necessarily cross our minds whether or not we should be filtering what we say. Its too easy for us to just excuse ourselves as small cogs in the scheme of things to be truly monitored in a big brother sense.

  2. Your title is a great way to begin this week’s discussion! I cannot think of an example where I have read and completely understood the parameters of using content or devices. It is interesting to see the World’s reaction to the iCloud leak, where of course Apple denies the hacker even accessed the photos via iCloud – as a form of spying/privacy violation. The argument of “information wants to be free” has been lost with the chaos of naked females and ethical considerations. Linking this with Schrem’s fascinating discovery is an important point to reveal regarding this scandal – how much of our data is being recorded by our service providers? Your example of the T+S Google gives us is a fantastic point for this topic and something I am looking at discussing in my blog. Further, I found this article very interesting regarding Google and our metadata….
    And to answer your question, I cannot deny I have not been more careful since studying BCM. I have downloaded Ghostery and Ad blocker,use a private email (so I sign up to newsletters, buy things and give compulsory email contacts as another address) and have limited my Facebook and Twitter use. I don’t really know why I am being so cautious, I don’t feel I have anything interesting to hide, and definitely no nudie pictures!

  3. Great post. The amount of information that Facebook and Google have on each of their users is quite scary to think about. I have always been cautious with what I post online not sure why but I have so thank god for that. I can honestly say that I have never read a terms and services agreement but maybe I should start…

  4. It’s true that Facebook has been such a bad social networking on leaking personal or private information of users but do not forget that it provides us more additional information while the print media couldn’t even get for us. I believe it is sometimes hard for us to not use Facebook even when we know it has all of our information. However, there is actually one way to stop Facebook from sharing your information with third parties. Here is the instructions,

  5. Enjoyed the read and catchy title. It’s a real eye opener thinking about how much user content from all over the world is up in the cloud. The recent leaks ties in well with the level of trust some people have for social media and the cloud. I think most people know full and well what we’re getting into when we use Facebook, and how it’s a shared relationship. But it’s ultimately up to abide by the rules and how we filter our content.

  6. I think most people are now aware of the dangers and possible outcomes of uploading images or insensitive comments onto the Internet but only a few will take preventive measures as they have this belief of “It won’t happen to me”. Unless it happens to us personally otherwise it will be difficult to instill a mindset that we have to protect ourselves and be accountable for our activities online.

  7. Great post with the recent event of hacking scandal. This event eventually has made users aware that our content isn’t necessarily all safe in iCloud, Facebook etc. I found it very clear and concise and honestly, I never had read the terms and conditions before. I think your blog did raise the awareness on me. Thanks 🙂

  8. An interesting and insightful post, I like how you linked the hacking scandal with the weeks discussion on iFeudalism. Its interesting that we the user are the product; in terms of Google and Facebook, their business model is dependent upon our continued use. I think users attempt to filter themselves but cannot truly avoid posting or uploading content to these platforms. Great inclusion of the Sweet Brown video.

  9. I really like that you use current events in your examples. It helps to keep a readers attention, and allows for me to understand the content in your post.
    In answer to your question, yes.
    After finding out about how much of my data is kept by these companies, and how they can use it, I definitely pause before I press the ‘submit’ button.

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