As a marketer whose activity revolves around the Internet and social media, I am fascinated by the extent to which digital platforms have changed our lives, especially in terms of privacy. I was therefore very excited (and a bit nervous, I must admit) when the BBC invited me to discuss these topics on their popular news segment, WorkLife.
In the interview, we talked about several interesting news stories that made the first page and gave us an interesting look into the way the modern Internet user handles privacy and what big corporations do to protect them from potential threats.
The first and most illustrative example was the story about Tinder, who announced that they would add more safety features to the app, in an effort to increase online safety: emergency assistance, location tracking, and photo verification to prevent catfishing. Although I am thrilled to finally be seeing these updates and more interest on Tinder’s part for user’s safety, I do think the company had a bit of a delayed response. In the past years, the number of sexual offences involving online dating apps has doubled in the UK, so the companies behind these apps need to take safety more seriously and create a positive space where users don’t feel threatened or harassed. Online dating is a reality now, more people are meeting on Tinder than ever before, so I think that Tinder, and other apps, should be investing heavily in safety improvements.
Another thought-provoking story that drew my attention and I wanted to discuss was that of Clearview, a facial recognition start-up in Manhattan that can reveal a person’s identity from a single photo. Clearview works 600 law enforcement agencies in the US to identify criminal suspects but, at the same, the existence of such a company can trigger a sense of existential dread because it would imply the end of privacy. This can be a divisive topic, but I believe that at this point it’s clear that AI is here to stay and that the technology itself isn’t bad. On the contrary, if Clearview uses facial recognition only for the purposes stated on their website, then it can have a positive impact on society. At the same time, people need to be more mindful of these technologies and how sensitive personal data can be exploited if it ends up in the wrong hands, which is why I emphasized the importance of setting social media profiles to private, being more responsible with our data, and adjusting privacy controls. Many social media users don’t know whether their profiles are set to private or where the privacy controls are, so I believe it’s crucial to increase awareness here.
We went into more detail in the last story, which was about Twitter demanding Clearview to stop taking images from its website because it was against the platform’s developer agreement policy. Again, this is an interesting topic, and I don’t think we can forecast how it will all end because we still lack a clear regulatory environment. Technology evolves at an accelerated rate, regulators are left farther behind, and we have no way of knowing how legislators will adapt to this new reality.
If you’re interested in these topics and how they influence digital marketing, I am available to provide consultancy to your business about digital marketing, as well as comment or present anything digital marketing related.