So, there’s been a lot of talks these last month over the Facebook data breach. In case you lived under a rock, we will explain what has happened and (probably more important) what we know about you.
This British political consulting firm bought the data of 87 million Facebook users. This data was collected by Global Science Research with the use of the app This is your digital life. This information was used for the American elections of 2016. The personal information of everyone who used this app and their Facebook contacts (friends) was involved in this data breach. The first launch of this app was in 2014. The app was removed in 2015. It’s not clear (at this moment) if there are any more apps who collect data in the same way that This is your digital life did. The problem is that many of the apps that are offered and enabling you to log in using your Facebook credentials, collect data. Trusting companies is an issue when it comes to the collection of data and the way it’s going to be used later on.
One of the questions that you might have: Is my data safe? Facebook offered a special page that informs you if you are one of the victims of this data breach. You can check if your account has been breached. Remember: you might not even have used this app. Any of your contacts could have.
Why are we doing this?
No, we don’t want to alarm you or cause panic. There is a good reason to write about all of this. We think that this is just the tip of the (virtual) iceberg. Many more companies collect data in the same way that Cambridge Analytica did. Some of those companies might even sell this data to parties you don’t want your data to end up.
We don’t encourage you to close your Facebook account. Or your Instagram or WhatsApp account. Or any social media account you use. What we do want you to know is the following:
Yes, we offer a social media integration on our website. We mentioned in 2017 that we wanted to develop an app for your smartphone. Up to now, we did not develop an app, because other priorities came first. These plans are on hold, as the development is an expensive process. If we do find sponsors and advertisers, we want to spend this money on other things: the infrastructure of our website and a fair payment for those who write for us.
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs leans heavily on social media. We are frequent users of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp (the last one isn’t really social media, but a way to connect with us). Many of our website visitors originate from social media. The comments that some of you write us, they are heartwarming. We believe that there is still a future for social media and we do intend to use the channels we are using. Well, until the moment better options come along. That’s all part of the tech-industry, right? Who remembers MySpace (we do have an account there too) or other social media giants from a few years back?
That’s all fine… but what do you know about me?
Well, we know a lot about you! First of all, we know that you are into poetry. We know where you live, we know if you are male or female. We know what you like and we know that you at some point in time have visited our website. We also see what you use to view our website. Good right?
It didn’t take us very long to find out this information. As it comes to being into poetry: you read a newsletter sent by a poetry magazine. So, we can safely assume that you have something to do with poetry. You might be a writer or just a reader.
We know where you live because we use a safety mechanism when it comes to our website. We can see who has visited our website. No, we can’t see what your internet history is. No, we can’t see what websites you visited or the things you like or don’t. We see your IP-address. We see all the IP-addresses of all people who visit our website. That has nothing to do with you. It has to do with those who want to bring down or take down our website. Yes, there are those who so desperately want access to our website to hack everything and destroyed what we made. What we made with the help of some of you. These addresses are listed in our database that is part of our website. Every time an IP-addresses is marked as unsafe, we prevent this address from accessing our website. The addresses that are considered as safe, we remove. And no, we don’t sell these addresses to others. Why should we? What do we have to win with this? A bucket of money? Money isn’t everything. Privacy is! This is more valuable than any gold in this world.
So, we know where you live… sort off… The IP-addresses don’t really tell us anything. They only tell us what country this IP-address belongs to and what Internet Service Provider is related to this.
What about the male-female part? How did we manage to obtain this information? Well, call this bluff. We can guess the information from your e-mail address or the likes you send us on social media. We also know this because of the information you gave us when sending us your e-mails or subscribing yourself to our mailing list. This will probably be very interesting for marketers. They will pay us good money to obtain this data. Again, money isn’t everything. When it comes to privacy, it’s nothing!
When it comes to visiting our website: you did. At some point in time. You read the information on our website, send us your feedback and/or you might have submitted your work to us. You are part of the 39,000 people who have visited our poetry platform since January 1st, 2018. That doesn’t mean you are a number. We value the moments you spend on our website. You are part of this poetry platform too. There might be a chance that you didn’t even write for us. Realize this: you are part of our platform just by visiting us!
This is what we know about you. It took us about 1,000 words to explain all of this. Why do we do this? First of all, because we take privacy seriously. Furthermore, we want to explain the things that are considered as important in this world. Your digital life is important. It’s also important to explain what we think about all of this and what information we have collected. Is this all the information that we gathered? For us it is, but we also offer ads on our website. How about those ads?
Yes, we display ads on our website. These ads are offered by Google and Chitika. We do this to make sure that we can continue with our poetry platform. The money that we make is used to invest in our infrastructure.
We didn’t buy a hosting package as most other website owners do. We decided to take it a step further and rent our own web server to make sure that we can offer a website to every visitor. To ensure that the traffic is well managed, we also use CloudFlare. CloudFlare makes sure that our website doesn’t drown when a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is organized. It also enables the quality of the used images on our website. All these things are costly. That is something we need as a basis to deliver the website to your device (smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer). That brings me to the part I didn’t mention before as it comes to what we see. We can check with what device you view our website. If we see an increase of mobile devices, we need to adjust our website. To make sure that our website is viewable in a good way on a smartphone or tablet. Related to this: we see what browser you use. Again, we don’t see the internet history. This is very important because we can find out on what browsers we need to test our website or new features on our website.
This is what we know about you and your digital life. We can’t tell if this is a good life. We hope it is. We hope that our poetry platform will be the inspiration you need. Or the motivation. We also hope that we can provide relevant information. What the social media companies see and do, we have no influence over that. Unfortunately. Unless we will start our own social media platform. But who are we to compete with tech-giants such as Google (who also collects a lot of personal data, including the mail you are probably reading when you are using Gmail), Facebook or any social medium you use.
What does this have to do with poetry?
Strictly, nothing. This has nothing to do with the beautiful poetry that many of you send us. It has to do with the platform you are viewing those poems on. It has to do with the fact that we want you to understand that we take privacy seriously. Probably more serious than those tech-giants. Let’s hope things will change… one day…