Nowadays in China, we have a saying that if you have something wanting to know, just “baidu” for a while. Baidu is a Chinese search engine just like Google and I think some Chinese people prefer to use Baidu rather than Google because perhaps it is more like Sinicism. But I think they are quite similar and substantially the same. And after arriving here, I’d like to use Google usually. Every time when I use them, I am so curious that how can they make a profit when providing free web services, such as search, maps and video. The fact is that they are funded through a sophisticated and highly lucrative advertising system which trades on what we users look for. They are so brilliant giving up the short-term profit but looking for long-term one in the way that offering us search services for free and charging for the advertising.
Some people are not aware of it totally, some ones know but don’t care about it at all. But if they find the truth, they will more or less be influenced. For me, after noticing it, now when I want to search for something, I will think twice just afraid of my search one day will have a connection with me on public, knowing the story of Charlie, who was badly affected by it.
Therefore, the concerns for privacy aren’t exaggerated. Because just like Google, we really do not know how they deal with our information. Someone will say that they just have the numbers, not our own names, but in fact, if spending some time doing more work, it is possible to find out the PC behind the number, further to the specific person. It is amazing but also terrible that we seem to be kept a lookout all the time, just like the workplace monitoring employees by GPS, not CCTV. And if we post a photo on Facebook or MySpace, we will find that it will exist forever. Like Stacy Snyder getting embarrassed with her “Drunken Pirate” post, the web means the end of forgetting.
We have to say that, to some extent, privacy is losing on the Internet, but in my opinion, the debate isn’t anachronistic, because we are now noticing it and trying to change it. And we don’t need to worry about it too much, because the virtual revolution is indeed a miracle and the web is playing a more and more significant role in our lives and going to be more important in the future. So it is better to consider about the principles that they are obliged to follow. We may not be able to control them having our personal information, but we can argue how to deal with them, as the FTC’s four “fair information practices”. We should draw the line between legitimate benefits of personalized advertising and the right of privacy in the space that on one hand, they, the commercial websites, be ethical dealing with our information, on the other hand, we, the users, be responsible for our behaviors on the web.