This is less about the reasons why an app knows where I am and more how I/we are resigned to this as a new norm. And that yes, I do knowingly click the AGREE button to allow this to happen. I’m guilty.

Yes, right now I am sitting in Australia.

It’s beautiful. I have posted photos to Instagram with my phone’s settings to never share location information. That only naively implies they are not storing this info or using it for Instagram’s own ad-driven raison d’être. Or, since I do not use Facebook, they are using other means to gather my location from other inferred means (a.k.a those data analytics so many worship).

I’ve noted how the sponsored ads (that I scroll over quickly so hope I do not mistakenly click) in the last 2 weeks have been serving up ads for Australian stuff.

If Instagram really knew me, they would know I’ve already been to Wilson’s Prom

They admit this point blank, under the guise of “staying true to the spirit of the Instagram community” (WTF does that mean? What does it mean when the owner, manager, and sole proprietor of a community defines its spirit? ):

I am not making any huge revelation. If I wanted to avoid having Instagram show me “ads of interest” to me (if they really knew me they would show no ads) I should just not use it. I am guilty of laziness.

It’s not about in or out of a social media garden being a more moral stand, it’s more wondering at what many of us have settled into as a norm.

And there it is staring me point blank in my face. I did not tell Instagram explicitly that I am in Australia, but it knows I am here from tracking me. The “spirit of the Instagram” community must also be “do not tell use how you they get and use information from “web sites and apps I visit”.

The creepy factor has been totally normalized. And any boasts of transparency are a shimmering pile of fraud poop.


Featured Image: Conversation flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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