Reactions from Facebook’s congressional hearings have ranged from bemused to downright terrified. Yet while the hearings were going on, other companies were in the process of changing their own privacy terms. From Yahoo to AOL, new privacy terms further detail how the company collects data from its users.
Privacy policies are nothing new, nor are the elements that make some of those policies seem less than ideal for the consumer. It’s only now the virtual world is taking a closer look thanks to the trials and tribulations of Facebook. And it’s not just their stock that’s gone down in the public eye; everyone is wondering just how much of their information is out there, and what other companies the general public should be keeping an eye on.
One of the companies now in the spotlight is Oath Inc., a subsidiary of Verizon. Verizon is already a well-known company. But in 2017, Verizon placed AOL and the newly acquired Yahoo! under the Oath umbrella. This means that HuffPost, MapQuest, and Tech Crunch (subsidiaries of AOL) as well as Flickr, Tumblr, and Yahoo! Mail (subsidiaries of Yahoo!) could be affected.
What the New Policies State
Oath’s new privacy terms focus on a few key points. Oath states they make “educated guesses about your interests based on your activity on Oath’s brands, websites, apps, products, services or technologies.”
These automated systems pull in the information you’re looking up or the places you’re engaging with including “sent,” “received,” and “stored, including communications content from [Oath-related brands]” synced with your account. These places include but are not limited to:
- instant messages
- SMS messages
- “information financial institutions are allowed to send over email”
- “all photos and other content uploaded to your account.”
All of this is done in the name of advertisement targeting.
What It Means
If you’ve ever looked up baby shower gifts then suddenly been bombarded by everything from strollers to breast pumps, you have an innate understanding of targeted advertising. Oath’s automated systems create an environment where even if that surprise baby shower was a secret, it’s certainly not a secret when it comes to advertising.
That being said, there are a few caveats to how Oath uses your data. For one, Oath insists messages are only shared with people you want. But, as it states in their privacy terms, Oath may “anonymously or pseudonymously share specific objects from a message with a 3rd party.” And yes, if you have Yahoo Mail, the company “respects your choice to opt out of interest-based ads.”
Fear Not The Zuck
While congress and the media fanatically “expose” Facebook (which DOES NOT SHARE IT’S CUSTOMER DATA WITH 3RD PARTIES) it seems that Oath is taking advantage of a little misdirection. Then again, these emails services are FREE. Don’t like it? Don’t use free email services.
Keep Up To Date
If there’s one thing that never changes, it’s just how much things change over time. With a greater focus on privacy issues, chances are likely that we will see a shift in privacy terms and the politics that guide them.
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