Opinion: Privacy should be kept safe on our phones

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Opinion: Privacy should be kept safe on our phones

Student privacy may be taken advantage of through their cellphones or laptops

Student privacy may be taken advantage of through their cellphones or laptops

Pixa Google

Student privacy may be taken advantage of through their cellphones or laptops

Pixa Google

Pixa Google

Student privacy may be taken advantage of through their cellphones or laptops

Katelyn Kasprisin, Guest Writer

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How common is it that while scrolling through social media, an ad pops up for a product you were just talking about? Many would say it is far too common, and even a bit excessive.

Social media has quickly become the most prominent means of communication and marketing. However, companies are going about their ways of reaching and advertising to customers to where it is becoming an invasion of privacy.

Junior Shane Besselman, an active media user, said “I’ve had multiple times where I have felt my phone was listening to me. I was talking to my friends and I get a recommendation or an ad for that thing on my phone right after talking about it.”

People have reportedly caught certain apps such as Facebook, Instagram and other social media favorites using the microphone of the smartphone to do more than what people might expect.

Reports say apps use the microphone to pick up certain words or phrases, then strategically offer ads for specific products based upon the words they pick up.

If that is not ethically alarming enough, a CBS article regarding phone spying said “Using hidden tracking technologies, the companies can see many of the pages you – and people connected to you – are visiting”. This then leads to strategic ad placement on your phone.

Andrew Arunski, junior and active online consumer, believes smartphone ad targeting is a complete invasion of privacy. Arunski said, “I feel as it is a violation towards the people’s rights. We don’t really give consent for companies to sell out information, but they still do it.”
However, as alarming as this may sound, other viewpoints offer interesting perspectives to consider. Besselman said, “I think most companies want to help people find new stuff that fits their needs. It is kind of weird, but it does help me discover new things.”

Not all people see this issue as startling as others do. Junior Jimmy Pickerill said, “I think it only becomes an issue if companies begin to use your personal information in an unsafe way”.

There is no question on the ethics of companies using customers information unwillingly. It is no longer an issue regarding business and advertisement, but instead morals.

This then gives rise to the question, do we give companies the right to record us unwillingly? I’m sure the pages of long terms & conditions we all skip over contain exactly what many companies are doing, however we just skim right over them, just as they want.

Further than the terms and conditions, some apps even ask for microphone usage as soon as the application is installed, giving the companies every right to use people’s information how they choose. At least they believe it gives them that right.

However, unwilling consent is much different than knowingly giving consent. Apps asking for solely microphone usage without explaining ad targeting is in a way tricking consumers to give consent without full knowledge.

Perhaps if companies and applications were straightforward and honest about their intentions, people would not be as disturbed as they are about ad targeting and microphone usage for advertisements.

Besselman said “I think it would be perfectly fine for companies to use information of mine as long as they have my consent to.”

Pickerill agreed that companies must allow full knowledgeable consent. He said “Companies should have to disclose what information they’re collecting and how they will be using it.”

Perhaps honesty truly is the best policy, at least in the digital marketing world. Maybe if businesses established a trust and fairness with customers about information they collect this would not be morally unjust. Unfortunately that is not yet the case.

Whether in support of smartphone spying or not, it is inevitable that the lack of personal privacy one experiences while on the web is unethical. Each individual is entitled to his or her own privacy, which in every way is being taken away by consumerism and the desire for money.

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