There must be something innate within the human soul which causes us to become easily addicted. Whether it’s to substance abuse, sinful pleasures, eating or money, or salacious videos, we all seem to have a set of addictions. Most of us may not even know they exist. They do. From Apple to Facebook, from Amazon to politics, we humans are engaged in feeding ourselves with what often ends up being harmful to us over time (see the incomplete list above).
Let me take two that concern me the most. Apple and Facebook. Nearly everyone I know is on Facebook. Among those are Mac and iPhone users, and Windows PC and Android users. What most of them do not know is the extent to which they are tracked by Facebook, Google, and advertisers. Of the entire group, Mac users seem to know about it far more than others, but some of that can be attributed to my small and unscientific sampling, to my own preaching on NoodleMac (friends, family, and co-workers say they pay attention but can’t name their favorite article; they all agree I rant, though), and the fact that Apple’s Mac customers tend to be better educated, have more disposable income, and are more aware of what goes on around them.
What does that say about everyone else?
Facebook and Google may be among the world’s most well known and profitable brands, but how they became so successful is less know. Both are advertising behemoths, yes, but their success in advertising is based upon data collections. That means whenever you use something from Google or use Facebook, you’re a user and not a customer. As that user, you’re part of the product.
This is where it gets creepy.
There’s a utility, a Chrome browser extension (so Google will know you’re spying on Facebook) that tracks you while you’re on Facebook. Appropriately, it’s called Data Selfie, and it tracks you and Facebook so you can see some of what gets captured by Facebook while you browse around. The Data Selfie Vimeo vide explains all the details, but it should be an eye opener for anyone who spends time on Facebook.
You’re not just being tracked. You’re being stalked.
Where does Apple fit in to all this behind-the-scenes tracking? Apple tracks, too, but not to the same extent and for utterly different reasons. For the most part, Apple isn’t trying to sell us anything via advertising, but some data collection helps to improve applications and the user experience. That’s all well and good. But Apple does not do much to prevent the collection of data from anything else we use on Macs, iPhones, or iPads.
In fact, Apple makes money from Google thanks to Safari searches. Perhaps $1-billion or more each year. That’s good enough incentive, even for Apple, to look the other way while Google culls information from our online habits. What about Facebook? What collusion there may be we don’t really know, but think of it this way. A free app on the Mac App Store or iOS App Store does not generate revenue, so Apple gets nothing for allowing Facebook or Twitter or other social media apps to be downloaded by customers (and, to Apple, you’re a customer). Yet, if I put an app on the App Stores and charge a dollar, Apple gets 30-percent of the revenue. Since Google via Chrome pays something to Apple for search engine results, why shouldn’t Facebook do the same to Apple? And who says they don’t?
After all, using Facebook amounts to an addiction of sorts, and by paying something to Apple wouldn’t our Facebook addictions amount to a co-dependency of sorts by helping Apple’s financials?
Addictions are rampant, folks. It’s just like conspiracy theories. We can’t help ourselves.