An interesting article from Mother Jones on how we value, or don’t value, our privacy.
The conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley is that nobody cares about online privacy, except maybe creeps, wingnuts, and old people. Sure, a lot of us might say that we don’t like being tracked and targeted, but few of us actually bother to check the “do not track” option in on our web browsers. Millions of people have never adjusted their Facebook privacy settings. According to a recent Pew survey, only small fractions of internet users have taken steps to avoid being observed by hackers (33 percent), advertisers (28 percent), friends (19 percent), employers (11 percent), or the government (5 percent).
What’s going on here? The short answer is a lot of pretty twisted psychological stuff, which behavioral scientists are only now starting to understand.
Our uneasy relationship with the internet begins with the fact we don’t really know who can see our data and how they might exploit it. “Not even the experts have a full understanding of how personal data is used in an increasingly complicated market,” points out Carnegie Mellon University public policy professor Alessandro Acquisti, who researches the psychology behind online privacy perceptions. Behavioral economists often refer to this problem as information asymmetry: One party in a transaction (Facebook, Twitter, advertisers, the NSA) has better information than the other party (the rest of us).
The six reasons are:
- we are more willing to sell our privacy than pay for it
- we accept default settings
- offering some privacy controls may induce people to be reckless
- we fall for misdirection
- we are addicts
- ignorance is bliss
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