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Do free tools like Twitter, Google, and Facebook freely communicate new rules?
Online -- the bad, the worse, and the ugly. We want 100% of older adults to have access to the Internet. It's a big place with lots of useful information, educational materials, loaded with discounts, pictures of family members from far away, and on and on. But who keeps up with recent, uh, upgrades? Please, to those of you helping folks with these tools, training and caution is required:
- When the Tweeting noise is too loud -- mute the noise. At one time, Twitter was struggling to sort out its business model, naturally, since it had zero revenue. They sorted that out and in 2010 began selling ads (deemed irrelevant by some users). Then a new feature in 2013, enabling ads to appear based on key words in Tweets. (Tweet 'have a healthy day', and one assumes an ad for vitamins will appear.) In May, along came a feature that made me laugh -- you can still follow folks on Twitter, but mute their Tweets. So news sites could be tweeting away, kind of like noisy birds, but listeners who mute them don't 'hear' these tweets. Only you know, which means that advertisers don't know. You reduce the noise and ad buyers buy ads anyway. Seriously? Like the long-term future of Twitter, this seems doomed.
- When you think your Gmail in-box is being read by advertisers -- it will be. In 2012, Google announced that the firm wants its tech to 'do good'. What a relief, users must have said. Because up to then, maybe this didn't appear so good -- after all, Google has been reading our mail forever so that we can be shown the 'right' ads. For those of us sometimes appalled by this, we ended up mucking around with ad settings and opting out of specific advertisers. But it's been 10 years, and like the frog in cold water, we are no longer shocked by our mail being read. In fact as a result of multiple court cases, the Terms and Conditions (which you clicked ACCEPT on, maybe a decade ago) now clarify that. So it is time -- Google is now going to branch out -- and provide an easier programming interface so that advertisers can do a better job reading our mail too.
- When you think Facebook is manipulating you -- turns out it is. And in another cover-their-whatever-body-parts after the fact, Facebook added to its Terms and Conditions that they might use your interactions to manipulate your emotions -- uh, do research. They did this after completion of the January, 2012 research project in which the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people were 'adjusted' to show more negative or more positive messages. How does that make you feel now? Especially after you read the now-antiquated World Medical Association standards about using human subjects in experiments? Guess a standard published in 1964 needs an update. Does Facebook need an update of its Terms and Conditions -- for any of its purposes? Well, since the last update was in 2013, maybe it's time. Certainly it is time for everyone to read what Facebook thinks it can do with your data.