Last week, I found myself in the middle of one of the more subtle business controversies swirling about society.
This specific dispute is one which all computer users should care about.
The situation began when I went on Amazon.com to peruse its selection of flash drives. Unable to make a decision on the capacity or make of the drive, I started researching reviews on Google. The very first site I clicked on had an advertisement in the margin.
Now, usually I would glance over the ad without a single thought, as I do with almost all other ads I encounter, but this one caught my eye. It was a picture of the exact flash drive I had been searching and considering for purchase. Shocked, I did a double take. But was my surprise a result of an invasion of privacy or the bewildering effect of truly efficient marketing?
There have been a number of developments recently in the Internet privacy battle. On one side of the clash are the Internet companies who have access to users’ information and tendencies. On the opposing side are users who believe their information is private and should not be shared, working in tandem with privacy regulation groups.
According to the New York Times, last year, Google made it the users’ choice whether to allow their information to be stored. The catch, though, was the user would be unable to use Google’s services if they did not agree to allow this information collection.
Now, European data-protection agencies are calling for additional reformation. Conceptually, the new policy would require Google to further inform users of what information is being collected and how it is being utilized.
This argument for a more open policy should not be recognized.
A very common way big Internet companies receive money from advertisements is on a “pay-per-click” basis. Each time a user clicks on an ad, the Internet company receives money, either directly from the company being advertised, or the advertising agency funding the ads.
The reason Facebook has had such atrocious performance on the stock market since the initial public offering is because analysts do not see much potential for revenue. Advertising is at the top of the list of revenue generating activities for Facebook, Google, and many other Internet companies. And they are finding it necessary to increase the effectiveness of such advertising.
After collecting myself from the momentary shock of seeing the subject of this argument at work, I did what I believe most people would have done. I clicked the ad.
As detrimental to studying as they are to us students, Facebook and other social networking websites are massive innovations to technological globalization. They have huge implications and importance within our generation and our society. In addition, the future of business, information circulation and social interaction are being altered and enhanced by these Internet companies.
Like all other companies, they need revenue to grow. Denying them the ability to conduct business more efficiently and effectively would hinder further innovation to a booming sector of the economy and of society. And if our age, gender, and Internet usage trends will allow them to do so, they deserve to know such information.
After all, the flash drive that was being advertised on that review website is plugged into my computer as I write this column.