As Facebook forces its users this week to download the Messenger app, I read some privacy fear-mongering articles and posts (ironically enough, on Facebook) about the implications of the app permissions. Unless you absolutely refuse to communicate via smartphones, those app permissions are the same for any messaging service, including your wireless provider. Do you remember those privacy notice status updates? I liken the recent concerns to that.
The truth of the matter is, the best way to protect your privacy is to simply unplug. For a case of how it’s done, read the story of how a university professor set out to hide her pregnancy from big data. Also, don’t forget to forego those loyalty cards from brick-and-mortar stores. After all, loyalty programs are just a way for companies to create buying profiles of its customers; similar to how Target can track whether some customers are expecting a baby.
That’s not to say that privacy fears are unwarranted. I’m just saying that there’s a lot of barking on the wrong tree when it comes to Facebook mostly because of viral misinformation and simply a lack of understanding among almost a billion people who use quite a complex technology such as Facebook. It’s not only tech companies who hold our data that we have to fear even if “snooping” may give some good results, such as the arrest of a pedophile with the help of Google’s Gmail scan.* Thanks (or no thanks?) to Edward Snowden, we now know that governments are not above snooping on its citizens. There is a lot of room to talk and resolve this issue and certainly we need to protect the integrity of the Internet so we can use it without constantly fearing for our privacy. I’m just saying that protesting Facebook’s policies is not a logical first step. For now, get informed on the tools that you use and opt for encrypted email/websites as much as you can.
Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail.
- Security: According to a Milwaukee security firm, a Russian crime ring has 1.2 billion username and password combinations, 500 million email addresses but skeptics question the report’s authenticity; meanwhile Google revises search algorithm to push for more website encryption
- The Facebook Messenger app split has begun which means you can now only send Facebook messages via Messenger; acquires security startup PrivateCore for an undisclosed sum
- IBM reveals TrueNorth, a chip that functions like a brain, in an article for the journal Science
- Two companies battling cancer are on the spotlight: Y-Combinator backed Bikanta finds and stops cancer by inserting diamonds inside the human body; and MagForce raises $15M from Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital to fund development of its technology for other types of cancer
- Uber and Lyft both roll out carpooling features this week
- Michael Kors fiscal first-quarter revenues of $919.2 million, up 43.4% and gross margins increase from 62% to 62.2%
- Coach fiscal fourth-quarter revenues at $1.14 billion, North American sales down by 16% while international sales up by 7% (YoY)
- Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson will sell half of his stake to private equity firm Advent International for ~$845 million
- Fundings: Universal shopping cart startup Two Tap raises $2.7M; beauty data startup Poshly raises $1.5M in seed round
- Twitter hints at e-commerce entry with “Payment and Shipping” function in its Android app after acquiring commerce startup CardSpring