Privacy Desensitization

Privacy Desensitization Through Nuisance

While surfing the web, did you perhaps, just by chance, come across popup messages and notifications? Doesn’t it seem like there’s more of those with every passing year? Have you been assaulted by updated “terms and conditions” statements from the plethora of services you use?

Notifications about cookies abound. The GDPR “spam” is wreaking havoc. At least in the EU, surfing is becoming increasingly annoying. The first access on almost any given site leads to at least two popups, and perhaps a third one about allowing the site to give notifications, or a fourth about social media interactions, or a fifth about sharing location… the list goes on and on.

Wait, wasn’t all this meant to protect our privacy? I don’t think so anymore. Privacy could have been protected without a gazillion notifications. The respect for privacy should have been implied, not asked for. Looking at how the attack of legal notices is orchestrated on almost every website we visit, it’s obvious that the objective is to abuse the user, overwhelm the brain and basically just herd everybody into a “click-ok-to-give-up-your-rights” mentality.

The EULA (End User License Agreement) is the oldest form of legalese attack. In recent times, companies were forced to simplify it, but the old reflexes of “accept whatever” are still there:^

But then came social networks and cookie spying, which caused a deluge of notifications popping up everywhere, up to the point where governmental bodies (ahem, the same ones that asked for this) are trying to find way to de-clog the browsing experience:^

Meanwhile, other methods^ to suppress the cookie monster’s yells have showed up.

But just when we sort of adapted to the cookies thing… came the GDPR (in the EU):^^

And we can’t forget the war on Ad Blockers:^

Nor can we forget “social networking beggars” (those websites that ask us to follow, subscribe, allow notifications or whatever else they can do to be a part of our lives):^

Last but not least, how about the mobile versions of websites forcing users to use their native apps? Yes, this has extremely much to do with privacy, as this answer points out: “An app has more potential access to your phone and hardware than a website. Access to your contacts, alarms, camera, and maybe most importantly for social media platforms, notifications. Notifications to have you coming back for more and more.”^

Of course, the corporate overlords are very giddy about this:^

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  1. Reply

    It’s also impossible to browse large swaths of the web on your phone. Admittedly it’s good for me that Twitter and Reddit, for example, repel me with their stupid app popups. Twitter doesn’t even seem to allow me to peruse the site unless I log in.

      • Reply

        The Pinterest reasoning intuitively makes little sense. Sure, if I’m logged in I might be more likely to “engage” — reply, like, (un)follow, whatever. I might click reply and close the tab instead when it asks me to log in. But when you force me to log in I just won’t be on the platform. That’s how Twitter made me stop visiting. Not that I’ve ever been a heavy Twitter user, but I had some “engagement” with some people.

        • Reply

          However, our personalities and backgrounds are rather… niche :). You refuse to play the game because you’re such a person (same here). But those”herding” schemes do work… just like mainstream music brings in billions because they’re so good at writing some hooks and generic messages and sounds that target such a wide swathe of the population.

          I believe this is rooted in the industrialized educational system which is geared towards uniformity and compliance at the expense of diversity and originality (which is sad because our potential as a species is severely subverted). But I digress 😀

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