Facebook+Skype+Microsoft: The Triumvirate?

Privacy Issues

The deal is signed, and everybody seems to be in the expectation mode. Learn about the Facebook-Skype-Microsoft triumvirate.

Do you like spaghetti?

In fact, this thing is becoming a bit like a spaghetti as of now:

– first, Microsoft acquires a share into Facebook. You may have seen it: Facebook search feature is now powered by Bing (which belongs to Microsoft).

– then, recently, Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion.

On the other hand, Facebook is partnering with big players so as integrate more entertainment into the social network: we can then highlight the tight connection between Facebook and Spotify during the last Facebook f8.

So what does this all mean to us users (who, by the way, are the main selling point for these big deals)?

The user base for each of these platforms is counted by the hundreds of millions. Let’s put away all the billion dollars that are circulating and focus on the user experience impact.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to limit the personal info that I am sharing on the internet: not because I am a VIP who’s running away from paparazzi, but because I just want to think that I have some kind of privacy. As of today, frankly speaking, I think everything is out of my control.

Let’s consider that you are a Microsoft user: you then had to provide some personal information about you for activating your license – in the early days, you could still provide some incomplete or even fake info.

But, hey, you’ve decided to use the internet, because you need to talk or do a video chat with a family or a friend abroad. So you just innocently decided to use the free Skype service (well, why would you buy a Skype out service if the free one is fine). But Skype also keeps some other personal info about you. At least, you’ll use an actual e-mail address, so if you ever used a fake e-mail address during Windows activation, guess what? ….

More information about you …

Yep, the Facebook-Skype-Microsoft triumvirate now has more information about you, about your contacts on Skype and even about the discussions you have. Scary? But that’s not enough, you want to be part of the community, so you joined Facebook. Either you use your e-mail address, or a phone number – you’ve just added another info about you. And in case you didn’t use your phone number, have you seen how Facebook (and other platforms too BTW) is inviting you to verify your account in order to protect it?

And your phone number …

They are asking you to confirm your mobile phone number: so you enter your phone number, then they send a code via SMS (it doesn’t mind if you’re located in the south pole, as long as you have access to a mobile phone), then you’ll need to confirm that code. Et voilà: they now have your working mobile phone number. Now, guess what? You want to brag to your friends that you’ve just checked in to that nice place in town, so you update your Facebook status with the check-in feature (you can even mention who you’re with): I’ll then let you guess what kind of information this triumvirate has got about you.

We can extend this paranoia as long as we wish, but you see the point. I just took Facebook Skype Microsoft here, but the same applies to Apple products or Google products …

So can we still talk about privacy on the internet? What’s your view?

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