When mistreating users becomes competitive advantage
September 16, 2014 3:34 AM Subscribe
This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected 'surprise and delight' was really more like 'surprise and delete'. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology.Deb Chachra talks about the age of non-consensual technology.
Betsy Haibel explains why companies engage in these practises
Consent-challenging approaches offer potential competitive benefits. Deceptive links capture clicks - so the linking site gets paid. Harvesting of emails through automatic opt-in aids in marketing and lead generation. While the actual corporate gain from not allowing unsubscribes is likely minimal - users who want to opt out are generally not good conversion targets - individuals and departments with quotas to meet will cheer the artificial boost to their mailing list size.
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