The Web Explained for the Average Person : Dangers, Miss Red

Do you feel like Red Riding Hood when you venture out into the internet? You should.

You should know that AOL is wolfishly looking to capture your attention no matter where you are on the internet. Wherever you are is where AOL wants to find you in order to deliver ads to you.

Once you can accept that, you need to realize that this is the strategy that all large internet companies use. Google wants you to use their free email, free search engine, free news service in order that you will stay on Google’s sites and see the ads that Google serves. But don’t get down on Google and AOL. Facebook and Yahoo and all the big companies are ALL chasing this same strategy.

It’s good to know the forest you’re traveling in.

Facebook Warning


UPDATE 1-17-11 Facebook has temporarily rescinded this so they can put a spin on it so it’s more acceptable. They claim it’s for our convenience…

Facebook is now sharing your home address and phone number with advertisers and developers. If you don’t want spam text messages, sales calls and more spam mail then you may want to consider removing your phone and home address from your Facebook page.

To make changes, go into your Profile and go through each screen. I personally recommend NOT using your actual birthdate, home address or home phone but some people are more comfortable risking identity theft than I am. In any case, assuming you are at least 13, Facebook doesn’t NEED that sort of information for any purpose other than targeting you for advertising.

You may also want to go into your Accounts>Privacy>Custom settings and pick the settings you feel comfortable with. Perhaps you would be okay sharing your home phone with just friends, friends of friends or no one, for instance. I’d recommend for your settings to be just friends (at most.) If any of your friends really need your home address or phone number, they can ask you in a personal message.

As of this writing, you can adjust your Privacy settings to not share your address and phone number with your friends but it’s not clear if that stops Apps from getting that information. There does not seem to be a setting to allow Apps to function without gaining your information – it’s all or nothing access, as far as I can tell.