The New York Times writes about people’s attitudes toward privacy — the differences between what they say and what they do.
Maintaining privacy is on many people’s minds these days, but sometimes that’s the last thing they do. […]
While attitudes toward privacy can appear paradoxical, the seeming contradiction is really about something else: control. When people bare their bodies on Facebook or their souls in the digital confessional of Google’s search engine, they feel as if they are in charge. Not so, when the private embarrassments come to light unexpectedly.
The subtle relationship between privacy and control has complicated things for marketers, too. Advertisers talk about having to move away from analog-era “push” tactics and embracing digital-age “pull” strategies, in which consumers are enticed into seeking information about a product or brand, rather than having ads foisted on them.
On the Web, “pull” seems to work best in environments like social networks or blogs. Aside from advertising linked to search engine results, paid online ads have been less successful, with only tiny fractions of consumers actually clicking on them.
To try to improve the effectiveness of online ads, agencies and Internet companies have been working on ways to tailor them for individual Web users. But that has raised fears of a loss of privacy or control, or both.