This has put capturing your data front-and-center for business and the ways it captures that data is rarely clear.
Still, the Facebook real-names policy and the Cambridge Analytica scandal have proven that blindly providing data without consent, is extremely dangerous if you’re an LGBTQ+ person who hasn’t come out yet.
In this blog we’ll explain why the internet is so hungry for your data and at what point capturing your data becomes intrusive. And of course, we wouldn’t be responsible if we didn’t offer some ways for you to handle it at the end.
Before we start, I’d like to say we are not focusing on the technical aspects of your safety.
We have an entire blog dedicated to keeping you safe online.
Here, we’re gonna focus on the marketing tactics that convince you, to hand over your identity.
Most data is actually fine. It’s just used wrong.
This starts with intent.
The first thing that pops into people's heads when they hear about others abusing their online data, is the hacker. Humped over their computer, looking at their screen in a dark room, with your bank account information in their “sites”. This is a stereotype, and it’s very wrong.
White hat marketers are people who are trying to market to you online with good intentions and ethics at the top of their mind. These people tend to prescribe to the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) who believe that ads done right, mean ads you care about and want to see, are all you see.
These marketers, and the programmers who build their sites, are geared toward helping you seamlessly attain what you need to go from point A - you need something - to point B - you have it.
To do that, marketers use a variety of “tactics” to get what they need from you without being annoying. Most of these involve the "collection" of “harmless data” called “behavioral tracking”.
To understand how this works, let’s consider the Marketing Funnel.
This is a strategy that suggests you need time to understand what you’re buying. You need to feel comfortable with who your purchasing it from, and make the decision to purchase it.
- They will first get your attention,
- Then offer a way to stay in contact in exchange for an email or subscription.
- They’ll provide a low-ball offer to get you on board and excited,
- And hen they’ll provide some information on what they sell.
- If you want it, you’ll buy it. And then, hopefully, you'll talk about it.
And this isn't bad.
Our Bisexual/Pansexual support group requires enough information to ensure security for others when you join the group. We have to prove you are who you are, but you are anonymous.
So instead we:
- Get your attention to let you know you're traceable online, and show you how to hide,
- Offer a weekly digest that provides you all of our resources in exchange for an email,
- Publish blogs and deliver content to you with suggestions to join our support groups,
- And eventually get you to come to one, enjoy it, and share it with others as a resource.
This works for us as a vetting process for us, and it gives you resources you need without feeling negative about it.
Much of the information websites collect involve this “white hat” level of marketing. A lot of it improves your user experience on the internet, but things get dicey as people begin to follow you around, either to personalize your ads or more devastatingly, sell information about you to ad agencies.
You don’t have control over data collected or it's use
There’s nothing inherently bad about a website installing a cookie on your computer.
But if that cookie is used by other agencies to identify you, it can be devastating.
A 2014 Time magazine article identified a pregnant woman whose ads discovered she was pregnant before she could tell the father. This is daily life for closeted LGBTQ+ people now, and even with the greatest of precautions...
The internet’s current architecture is built to out you.
In that same Time article, the author tried to remain anonymous on the web about her own pregnancy for all nine months. She didn’t succeed because companies who were tracking her data, were providing that data to companies who had nothing to do with her. She “opted-out” of data collection for one business, but the other businesses she had no idea were watching her, outed her anyway.
This woman was careful. She took greater precautions than we ever recommend, and still, the marketing practices attempting to sell her products she would need, over-zealously outed her as an expecting parent to her friends and family.
According to Andy Yen, “the business model of the Internet today really isn't compatible with privacy. Just take a look at some of the biggest names on the web, and you see that advertising plays a huge role. In fact, this year alone, advertising is $137 billion dollars, and to optimize the ads that are shown to us, companies have to know everything about us.”
So what can you do about it?
So what’s to be done about it?
It made sense because it was the only thing you as a closeted, stealth, questioning, or under-resourced LGBT+ person had control of - the device in your hands. You can keep yourself safe by following these rules on our blog about anonymity but we're quickly finding, that's not enough.
As with the reporter who failed to stay anonymous, even after making herself look like a criminal,
this is not everything we can, should, or even must do.
“The business model of the Internet today really isn't compatible with privacy. To optimize the ads that are shown to us, companies have to know everything about us.” ~ Andy Yen
we need to be a website that helps you remove your presence from the internet,
by reducing your reliance on the internet.
We will help you move your interactions with LGBT+ resources away from websites, marketing funnels, and emails, and toward unrecorded private channels.
Our online support groups allow you to attain resources in an unrecorded environment. We just started our bisexual/pansexual group, bittersweet, availble September 18th, and it's working well.
We are also committing to changing the way people collect your data by working with our partner organizations to make them more closet-friendly and amenable to anonimity on our resources page.
If you feel lost, need a little extra help, or someone to talk to, consider joining one of our support groups at support.rescqu.net!
Our facilitator Lane created Bitter / Sweet because she was tired of Bi-erasure throwing her into the closet constantly, and she wants to support you too.