By: Desiree Dahlson @desireedahlson
Big Brother is always watching. But this time, Big Brother isn’t the government. Big Brother is social media and the internet.
When anything is put on the internet, it is nearly impossible to fully erase it, according to the Washington Post. While many know this, 91% of adults believe the way personal information is collected online is not controlled by the consumers. Brendan Witcher, Forrester analyst, said ,“[consumers] are more willing to sharing personal information about themselves – like brands they own, retailers they shop with, even interests and hobbies – than traditional data like income, age, and gender. Because they know the former is more relevant than the latter.” Because of this, the amount of data found on the internet about each individual can give insight into many aspects of the consumers’ lives.
Multimillion dollar and worldwide company Uber wants to capitalize on the amount of personal data found on the internet. Recently, the company created a patent that would allow the app to access data found on riders’ social media profiles. Uber would access personal data specifically, and use this information for the UberPool aspect of the ride-share app, a feature that allows riders to carpool with another random rider headed in the same direction.
With personal information on riders, Uber will be able to match a rider with another rider that has a common link with them. This could include things like riders with mutual friends, similar hobbies, riders from the same home town, or those who went to the same university. Before the Uber arrived the riders would be notified of the common link between them and the other rider.
While this feature could create a more comfortable and welcome environment to riders during what can sometimes be an awkward situation sharing a ride with a complete stranger, some fear the breach of privacy it could mean. Furthermore, the patent states that the riders would be able to connect with each other on Facebook before the ride, revealing one’s identity and possibly more personal information than one rider may be comfortable with.
The patent was first filed by Uber in July 2016, but still has yet to be approved. This highlights the concerns many have regarding using consumers’ personal information from the internet.
In the end, personal data found on the internet seems to reveal something rather ironic: consumers are willing to share a good deal of personal data on the internet, yet many of these same consumers also feel uncomfortable when their personal data is accessed and used by companies.