Thoughts about tech, programming, and more.

Don't sell out

Sometimes, abiding by your values and principles comes at a cost. This applies to both our personal lives and our business endeavours.

I was thinking about this today as I was considering running some social media ads and pondering the types of ads I should run.

There are different types of ads. Standard ads are shown by Facebook to users who match certain filters. Then there are retargeting ads. The appeal of retargeting is that it allows you to easily target people who have already visited your website. Hence "RE-targeting".

Just set up a code snippet on your website and when someone visits your website and then views Facebook, they'll be shown your ad on Facebook.

It's a much cheaper way to target people since you're targeting people who have already shown some degree of interest in your product.

This happens all over the web. Apps you download on your phone and websites you visit on your computer. It's called cross-site tracking. And it's why you feel like your phone and computer are watching you... because it is.

But is this really what we want? I don't think so.

I know I don't want my activity tracked and shared across to other apps and websites. And I think many of us feel that way.

More than that, I don't think Facebook has any right to know what websites I'm viewing outside of Facebook. Especially without me explicitly giving my fully aware consent.

Why should Facebook know if I'm shopping for a mortgage, researching health products, or looking into ideas and things about parenting my children? These matters are private and are no one else's business.

It's quite amazing that this type of snooping has been accepted as the norm. Really, it shouldn't even be up for debate.

I understand that we give our consent simply by using an app or website because their terms of service state that you agree to do these things if you use their service. But let's be honest, we know no one reads these terms, and if they do, they likely don't understand them. This type of practice is nothing more than dealing in shadows and secrets. It's sneakiness. And if you have to be sneaky to get something you want, you're probably infringing on someone else's wishes somewhere down the line.

The real question we need to ask is: if I don't want this done to me, should I be doing it to others?

The answer is pretty straightforward.

But... if I don't use retargeting, that means I forfeit that advantage, which has a tangible cost to me. That is the reality. And really, the true test of our beliefs and principles is demonstrated by what we do when there is a cost to maintaining those beliefs and principles.

So if I know what I know about these things, it boils down to one question: can my values and principles be bought?

And unfortunately, most people and businesses don't realize what they're doing, or simply sell out at a certain point. After all, "everyone else does it."

But I say, don't sell out. Eat the cost. And enjoy eating it while you're at it.

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Jamie Larson