Hardly a day goes by right now that we don’t hear, watch or read about breaches of our privacy.  Facebook’s CEO testifying before Congress about his company’s use of your data.  Data mining firms who know everything about you.  Tech industry pioneers apologizing for the part they played in where we have ended up, some even promoting that we delete all our social media accounts right now.

This author asserts that “Data misuse is a feature, not a bug,” of today’s online culture.  To discover the “WHY” behind that statement, we have to look only as far as the business models behind Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and any number of other popular “free” social media platforms.  How did Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth grow to almost $70 Billion (yes, Billion with a B) when he doesn’t charge any of his 2.2 Billion worldwide Facebook users?  How are Twitter and Snapchat each worth around $25 Billion when you don’t pay to use their services?

The answer?  Advertising.  And, more specifically, TARGETED advertising.  We’re not talking about billboards and Superbowl ads here.  We’re talking about sites that use the wealth of personal data you provide – whether you know it or not – to market you the very specific products and services you are most likely to purchase.  It’s not coincidence that if you search Amazon for “range hoods,” suddenly your Facebook feed, your Google search results, and your email inbox are flooded with advertisements for various brands of the black, 30-inch, vented, under-cabinet, 600 CFM hood you were searching for.  Not a coincidence.

It’s also not coincidence that to use any of the most convenient apps and online services, the very first thing you have to do is create an account or log in.  Your contact information, search history, purchase history, email address – all are just as valuable to many online retailers as the goods or services you may be purchasing.  They not only use that data to market their own products to you; many also collect and sell that browsing data and your other information to other companies for big money.

So, what can you do about all this?  It comes down to weighing the risk/reward for convenience versus privacy, and educating yourself on what you’re putting out there and how others might be using it.  Like many things in life, it comes down to taking responsibility, taking ownership, and taking control.

In the latest issue of our Mid-Rivers Community Connection magazine, we share some simple online security tips to help protect your privacy.  We have also recently invested in an online training program that will be FREE for our customers called KnowBe4.  We use their training internally to reduce the potential for security threats on our own company network.  Their sessions are quick, simple videos that are easy to understand and typically take less than five minutes to complete.  Watch our social media pages and your email for information on how to take advantage of this free training in the coming weeks.  And, as always, you can be confident that Mid-Rivers does not and will not sell or share your data with third parties, and we work hard to protect the privacy of your account information and any other data you provide to us.  You can read more about how we use your data in our Privacy Policy.  And if you have questions about online security, you can always contact us.

In the last post, I promised a fiber construction update for 2018.  Now that spring may have finally decided to arrive, crews are gearing up to put plows in the ground.  Here’s what’s on the agenda:

  • One of our contractors, Anderson Underground, plans to start construction in the Lavina exchange in mid-May (depending on weather and ground conditions).
  • A second contractor, MP Nexlevel, will be returning to Baker in May to complete the Stanhope Addition and the remaining rural portion west of Plevna, prior to moving to the Custer exchange.
  • Our own Mid-Rivers construction crew will be working on the Lindsay and Bloomfield fiber projects.
  • Also on the list for later this year are locations in the Musselshell, Melstone, Savage, Ryegate, Grass Range and Roy exchanges, including the towns of Musselshell, Melstone, Grass Range & Roy.

Our hearts are very heavy at Mid-Rivers today as we mourn the loss of our co-worker, friend and brother Joe Green.  Joe managed our Outside Plant District in the Roundup region for many years, and I know he was excited to see all the fiber construction that was coming to his area.  He always put the customers first and he worked so hard to make sure we were always doing what was best for them.  Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife and daughters.  We will miss you, Joe.

2 thoughts on “Is Anything Still Private?

  1. It makes more sense to say ” If it is free to you, you are the product”. Rural people can relate, after all we give “free food” to our livestock!

    Liked by 1 person

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