They know what you like

But social media giants don’t necessarily care who you’re sleeping with.

click to enlarge YOUR HOST: Mark Zuckerberg’s $7 million mansion in Palo Alto. Would he care if you had sex in his closet? - GAWKER
Gawker
YOUR HOST: Mark Zuckerberg’s $7 million mansion in Palo Alto. Would he care if you had sex in his closet?

If you pay attention to such things, then you know there’s lately a lot of talk about privacy and the Internet.

If you pay attention to such things, then you know there’s always a lot of talk about privacy and the Internet.

A lot of people don’t, you know — pay attention to such things. They’re only the least bit aware that all those pictures and comments and purchase orders they’re sending out into the digital ether are actually going somewhere, being stored somewhere, possibly being pored over by eagle-eyed programs much more astute and thorough than a human could ever be.

And a lot of people are somewhat more aware that such things are going on — and they just don’t care. When they consider it at all, they consider it, in a vague sort of way, to be the price of admission — a trade-off for the convenience of publicly liking something or ordering shoes or suggesting that someone else has all the taste and erudition of a wet sack of duh, all from the comfort of home.

Of course Facebook wants to know what you like. (Surely you’ve noticed that, despite almost overwhelming demand, Facebook is less interested in adding functionality to find out what you don’t like, yes?) Of course Google wants to “streamline” its privacy policy by spreading it to cover and integrate data regarding your use of all of its services. These are companies that came to be worth billions of dollars in an astonishingly short period of time, and did it without charging you a cent. Their value lies almost completely in their ability to provide detailed statistics and analysis about potential consumers — that’s you — to other companies. They work very hard to provide you with a satisfying and personalized experience, because you are, in a very real sense, their biggest asset.

So, yeah, those huge virtual environments in which many of us spend most of our time online are spying on us. Of course they are.

Sort of.

But not really.

Let’s say you go to a party at a stranger’s mansion. You put your beer in the fridge in the opulent super-contemporary kitchen, and you wander away with one of the beers in your hand. The evening takes you through many rooms and many adventures, and you eat many delicious tapas off many platters, and you keep going back to the kitchen for your beer, and maybe you end up having sex in a walk-in closet that you mistook for a bathroom.

Now, anyone at the party who cared enough to take note might know what kind of beer you were drinking, because you were carrying one around in your fist all night. And whether or not you met the owner of the mansion, the owner might have noticed what kind of beer you were drinking, because, well, smart rich people tend to pay attention to what strange people are doing in their mansions. But the owner of said mansion is never going to know you nailed somebody in his walk-in closet, unless you are the victim of an almost unbelievable coincidence of random timing.

Or, of course, you tell enough people that it gets back.

My point is, Web entities like Google and Facebook aren’t interested in going out of their way to find out whether or not you got laid in the closet. Don’t flatter yourself. They make their money by knowing what kind of beer you were drinking at the party.

In any case, it’s their mansion, and their house rules. If you don’t like it, don’t go to the party.

Or, you know, do it in the car.

Read more Scott Harrell at lifeasweblowit.com and dailyloafblog.com, and follow him on Twitter @lifeasweblowit.

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