In a perfect world, you would be able to download an app equipped with settings that delay unwanted messaging. Unfortunately, that would defeat the marketability of the product and the companies’ ability to collect data about its customers. It feels a little creepy to watch the ads on my browser change according the last sites I’ve visited or know that every time I’m on Facebook, a sponsored or ‘recommended’ ad is being added to my feed without my permission. Given the data gathered by the Pew Internet Research Project (2012), I’m not alone in my apprehension:
- 54% of app users have decided to not install a cell phone app when they discovered how much personal information they would need to share in order to use it
- 30% of app users have uninstalled an app that was already on their cell phone because they learned it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share
How often has this happened to you? When you tweet or Facebook, how often do you disable the GPS capabilities? Given the basic stats, one thing is clear – disclosure. I think information should be simple and obvious when it comes to mobile privacy. The EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) that’s often written in legalese at lengths that are more than most of us want to scroll almost need to be presented in video or infographic format to be fully understood.
Social networks connect so easilty to mobile devices and can parse your contacts and other personal information. Although you get a notice about this from mobile versions of Facebook, are you really made aware of the extent your information will used? What does it mean really when it says, “Facebook would like to post on your behalf?”
For me it all comes down to disclosure. With the stats given above, I wonder how many of those companies track or evaluate the number of times their apps are uninstalled?
BOYLES, J. L., SMITH, A., & MADDEN, M. (2012, September 5). Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices. Pew Research Centers Internet American Life Project RSS. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/09/05/privacy-and-data-management-on-mobile-devices/