Apple’s latest OS upgrade, High Sierra, now offers enhanced options that prevent online tracking. It’s a move that is welcomed by users who want to protect their privacy while online.
At the same time, advertisers have pointed out the enhancements could make it more difficult for them to deliver relevant and timely information, making their marketing campaigns less effective. Still others can’t help but laugh at the irony of enhanced internet privacy in the age of social media.
The enhanced features have been welcomed by user boards across the Internet. High Sierra now offers two different options when it comes to controlling cookies and other forms of tracking by third-party websites.
First, users can simply set their preferences to prevent cross-site tracking. This will delete tracking information periodically as long as users don’t visit the third-party sites. Secondly, they give users the option to automatically submit a request to these sites to not track the user. it is then up to the site to approve or deny the request.
Advertisers claim these moves do little more than create the illusion of security for users while making the marketing campaigns of advertisers more difficult. After all, the new OS will still track the browsing history of users and the enhanced features do nothing to cut down on that. Users aren’t really that anonymous and, according to many of the retailers affected by the change, it simply makes the content users see more generic and less likely to be helpful or timely.
After the features were announced, six trade and marketing organizations drafted an open letter to Apple which was published in AdWeek. They claim the change does more than simply make advertising less timely for users – it could “drive a wedge between brands and their customers”and that it takes control away from the users. Their position is that if users want to opt out of this kind of enhanced tracking, they should be able to do so on a brand by brand or company by company basis. That way, users control the kind of content they eventually see . “Put simply,” the open letter says, “machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice.”
Of course, internet privacy is something of a fringe topic these days. While users demand better protections when it comes to their browsing, they’re also using social media more than ever before. A full 81% of us have an active social media profile and we’re sharing more than ever before.
Recent studies have found that the average person will spend more than 5 years on social media over the course of a lifetime. By comparison, the average person spends 7 years of their life watching TV. With increased usage like that, one has to wonder if someone browses anonymously, how long before they end up posting about it anyway?
Perhaps the real draw to enhanced internet privacy isn’t about privacy at all – it’s about controlling how our information is shared.