A recent Mashable article features policy changes of the steaming music service app, Spotify, that involve accessing personal data on the user’s smartphone and social media accounts. Like many free service apps, the app developer attracts users with the promise of a personalized, hassle-free experience, and then pursues a more aggressive, systemic mining of personal data in order to grow advertising revenue.
The backlash to Spotify’s recent policy change was immediate as users objected to the company’s intent to pursue personal data in the devices and social media apps (friend contacts, and conversations, etc.). Even though the policy may require getting the user’s permission, there is a perceived trust issue.
The problem with registering with free on-line services from a personal security standpoint is that the advertising programs being developed are increasingly intrusive. With access to personal data they take hints (or keywords) from conversations on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and then insert ads into the media stream for your account that correspond according to your most recent on-line experiences and personal profile. The other significant problem is inappropriate content for young users because these apps are adult swim, meaning that explicit content is readily accessible. So you will want to be able to manage to content that is age-appropriate. For more details about children and streaming music, Common Sense Media offers a good overview.
Indeed the buyer must be aware of the things you are giving up or agreeing to when you decide to download an app and register personal information to use it. The cost is more than money. When you accept “free use” of an app, you are trading on trust, which is worth more than money.
Conversation tips about cyber secure use of apps:
- Explain to your child that private is important because it presumes a measure of control over who gets see or know about your personal stuff, including your sex, age, image, address, where you go to school, who your friends are, your feelings and preferences.
- Furthermore trust among people and with apps is always verifiable. Not everybody is trustworthy or has your best interest at heart, and your job as the parent is to monitor your child’s cyber communications, content and apps so you can train them how not to give up too much personal information and attention. Free service providers are seeking to gain your attention and trust so they can earn money by presenting ads to you in ways that are very personal – like an advertiser responding to an on-line conversation about someone’s purchase of a style of shoe or video game whether or not you are interested in making a new purchase.