What Do Privacy and Sewage Have In Common?

There is one question you need to ask yourself when you want to know how the general public treats their data privacy.

“Where does my poop go?”

Yup.

That’s the metaphor we’re using today.

Most people have no idea where their poop goes after they flush the toilet.

And unless you’re a civil engineer, a plumber, or someone who works for a local government, you might be shocked by the answer.

The truth is, most large cities, especially the older they are (over 700 in the USA alone) have what is called a mixed or combined sewer system.

Challenges and Combined Sewer Overflows. Overflows happen when combined sewers are overwhelmed by heavy rain. Every year, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) release about 850 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into lakes, streams, and rivers across the United States.” (source: EPA)

That’s right, when the chocolate tinted sludge meets the storm sewers below ground, if there is more than the treatment plants can handle, then it heads into the closest large body of water or river.

Untreated raw sewage straight into your water…

It Gets Worse

A 2015 study found that emergency room visits for gastrointestinal distress increase after a heavy rain. These illnesses are believed to spike after a storm because rainwater washes pathogens into lakes and rivers used for recreation and drinking water.

Sewage backups, overflow from combined sewer systems, and other environmental issues, such as pet waste and fertilizer run-off can cause local issues when the water is re-introduced to drinking water sources, or backups cause contaminated water to overflow in public streets and parks.

 

What Does This Have to do With Facebook & Privacy?

The problem with privacy is that almost no one has any idea how any of the systems function that they use every day.

People don’t know what happens to their poop when they flush the magic silver lever on their throne, or who owns it once it’s gone.

Just like the 80% of Americans who don’t know where their poop goes when it leaves the pipes from their home, over 95% of Americans polled had no idea what data they are allowing to be used and sold from just the top 10 apps on their smartphones.

Every Terms of Service Agreement you didn’t read but agreed to, contains vague legalese about storing, selling or using your data.

You trade convenience for privacy.

The irony is that Americans say they care about protecting their data. Pew Research found that being in control of who can get information about us is “very important” to 74% of Americans.

Researchers estimate would take 76 hours a year to read all the user agreements we have to agree to, and clicking “No” often means not using a tool that you may actually need to navigate, communicate or do their jobs.

Sure, you can get your groceries delivered. But then the app, the store, and even the store clerk and the delivery boy know what you ordered. The stores then use that information to target things like coupons, advertisements, and other promotions to you.

The feedback from most people on the Facebook Senate Hearings is that the people who make decisions in the USA, don’t have any idea how the most common applications on the planet work at even the most basic level.

Have any free apps on your phone or your kid’s ipad?

Do you use Waze or Google Maps, or Apple Maps, or any GPS enabled device?

Do you think that Google isn’t indexing information from your GMail account, or Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, or Live Mail?

Ever watch a YouTube video or go to a website – any website… ever?

Your data is out there.

…and someone has even more of it than Facebook.

…and the man behind the curtain is Google!

Facebook Didn’t Have a Data Breach

If you want to know where your poop goes, at least when it comes to the misreported “Facebook Data Breach” you should read this article. Because everything everyone told you about it in the news media is a lie.

People are upset over Facebook’s allowing the use of data collection on friends that was patched in 2014.  But what about the companies like Equifax losing your social security number or companies like Home Depot, TJMax, Target, Heartland, or Sears losing your credit card data?

Now What?

Understand what you’re giving away when you download that app, or use that device or service.

Understand that when you walk into a modern chain store, they have your photo, your name, your payment card, and purchase information.

Equifax never asked you if they could track your credit, your social security number, or your loans and credit card data and then lose it all for 143 million people.

But we’re demonizing Facebook because they know you like cats and voted for Nader.

I’m not saying Facebook doesn’t have work to do, but at least they are honest about their intentions.

senator-we-sell-ads

They aren’t “selling your data” because that would mean giving away their competitive advantage. They are using your data to target advertisements you are more likely to click on. To see what types of content you want to see more of.

To give you more of the things you are training your Facebook feed to show you.

Facebook is a tool – a powerful tool.

A company like Equifax is a bunch of crooked crooks.

Maybe it’s time we aim the angry mob in the right direction.