Students concerned about phone surveillance

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Students concerned about phone surveillance

By Anthony Sevilla & Maria Del Aguila

Seeing ads while scrolling through your Twitter timeline is common enough for anybody with sight and a smartphone. However, recently, the precision of the correlation of these ads with your interests has been thrust under a microscope, with many claiming it’s a violation of privacy rights.

“It’s just scary how they have that information about you.” Riley Figueroa, student at PSC, is also doubtful of how helpful these ads can be. “What else do they know? How closely are they watching you?”

The concept behind targeted ads is simple enough. As you meander through the Internet, watching cat videos or browsing through food accounts on Instagram, your browser sends advertising networks details about what you’ve been viewing. That information is stored within browser cookies; a tiny code that allows sites to connect the dots and create the pop-up advertisements that you regularly see. The notion is innocent enough, right?

Tyler Hamilton, PSC theatre major, often has acting gig advertisements pop up on his social media. Hamilton, happy to be in the minority of opinions, believes they are helpful to him.

On the other hand, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 68% of adults have smartphones. Interestingly enough, not many of that large majority enjoy being the target of advertising.

Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that only 28% of adults think it’s okay for websites to distribute their information. Although it may seem flattering that websites want ads tailored for you and your wants, it’s frowned upon by the larger majority of consumers.

This seems to be a problem that plagues many of our lives, whether we notice it or not, a solution doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight.

The problem may get even worse with an influx of listening assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home hitting the markets. The idea behind these listening assistants is that they’re listening, available to carry out any orders you deem necessary on a moment’s notice.

However, a device set to have an ear out at all times may be something people want to reconsider before buying.