I got an email on Friday from a non-tech savvy friend that had recently asked me for advice on where to set up a new email account for her home business. I recommended gmail, pretty much just as a reflex.
Here’s the email she sent me:
“…So here’s an interesting thing with Gmail: I’ve been e-mailing back and forth about a quote for my services and one of the questions the client asked me is ‘am I covered by worker-injury insurance’. I answered that I have do indeed have private accident and disability insurance, so no need to worry about my coverage while onsite.
Now–alongside my mailbox I’m getting ads about disability insurance, and legal claims for workplace injuries. Somebody is reading my Gmail besides who I’m sending it to. What’s up with that? Is this phishing? And how do they get into my mailbox?“
Now, at first my reaction was the typical techno-geek response: “Duh, Gmail has ads and that’s why the service is free, I’m LOLZ because you think someone is reading your email”.
But then I thought about this for a second. Someone is reading it.
Maybe I’m the one the joke is on, not the non-techie person.
The Joke is On Us
Consider for a second the world of ad targeting we live in where we’re so used to Google invading our personal data and online activities that it seems laughable that someone ‘non-technical’ would assume another party is reading their email and the like.
It’s kind of sad how Google-conditioning takes over and we forget, and even laugh at, the idea that our data is private and shouldn’t be read as fodder for ad targeting.
When you stand back and look stuff like this from a non-Google-user perspective, it’s pretty striking. I used to think that one day ‘we’ll all look back and laugh at the time when our private communications were private’, but low and behold, we’re already there.
Maybe we should stop laughing.