Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Moves off

This morning I reluctantly deleted Moves from my phone, and deleted my account from their servers.

I'm sad to lose it. I forget exactly when I started using the app, but - since they very kindly let me download all my info before I wiped it from their servers - I know that the app remembered for me. I started using it in June 2013. Since then I've been thoroughly enjoying having a quiet, beautifully designed little tracker app telling me where I've been when and how much exercise I'd got in the process.

Then last month Facebook bought them.

My gut reaction was distrust, but Moves promised they'd remain independent and not commingle data with their new data-farming overlords owners.

So I carried on using the app until this morning. This morning it wanted me to install an update and accept revised terms and conditions. One of the main revisions explicitly allowed them to "share information, including personally identifying information, with our Affiliates (companies that are part of our corporate groups of companies, including but not limited to Facebook) to help provide, understand, and improve our Services."

Um. No thank you.

Now it's important at this point to mention that I am not a privacy nut. I accept that living in the modern world means I leave all kinds of metaphorical foot, finger and face prints all over everything. All the time. I'm fine with that. I mean - d'uh - here I am blogging after all.

Partly I'm happy enough that the sheer volume of data about all of us out there secures the data collected about me by burying it in all the other data about everyone else. Partly I'm confident that I'm not really doing anything that draws attention to me, except where I've intended that (like writing a post here and tweeting it). Mostly though I'm relaxed about data collection because I tend to choose how and to whom I volunteer potentially sensitive information, and what I get in return.

When you boil it right down, I used Moves because they provided a service I really valued and - as an independent app - I was happy with them benefitting by gathering some data about me. Nothing's actually free after all.

Facebook's core service is of no interest to me whatsoever. I don't value it, so I don't use it. I've stayed in touch with the people I wanted to, and maintain those connections just fine through various other routes. As Facebook's grown more all-pervasive I've, on occasion, looked at their terms to see what the "cost" of joining is and whether the (minor) benefit of having an account on this increasingly widely used platform would benefit me enough to merit giving up whatever it is that Facebook wants in return. I keep coming back to the same conclusion: that Facebook wants to aggressively harvest data about its userbase in order to sell aggressively targeted advertising.

I have an unusually low tolerance for advertising at the best of times.

So I deleted Moves. I don't trust that the (moderately sensitive) data I was happy with an independent Moves using, won't in some way be used to harangue me to buy crap I don't want now that it's "shared" with Facebook. I especially don't trust them fudging this whole issue - as the Guardian point out - by drawing a distinction between "share" and "commingle" but failing to articulate the nature of that difference.

Put simply, data "payment" for free services needs to meet a cost benefit analysis like any other transaction, and (for me) the cost of giving my data to Facebook makes the benefit of using Moves too expensive.