Low participation in Quit Facebook Day has led some to claim that “no one really cares“ about privacy – the argument seems to be that since Facebook didn’t lose many accounts, that must mean that people don’t care. The author asserts:
Go ahead. Name me one company of a significant size whose business suffered due to its treatment of people’s private data. Unless I’m missing something, you can’t. . . . In the online world, I can’t name a single significant company that had a problem. They pay lip service to being concerned about privacy, but, in fact, a small number of verbal people whine, but very few leave. If a site is useful, most people (not you, the smart readers of this blog, but average everyday people) vaguely wonder about what happened, but won’t give up their site.
Never mind that the claim is transparently self-serving and ignorant of actual research, let’s try to repeat the same argument in other contexts.
No one really cares about poisonous chemicals in their food. I can’t think of a single company that failed due to pesticide use. Never mind the $23 billion in organic food sales in the U.S.
No one really cares about security flaws in operating systems or web browsers. I can’t think of a single company that failed due to computer security issues. Never mind the $16 billion in security software sales.
No one really cares about paying taxes. I can’t think of a single government that failed due to tax assessment and collection. Never mind that whole taxation without representation flap a few hundred years ago.
This is silly. The question of whether or not people care about something is not answered by asking whether businesses fail when they don’t provide that something. A better answer can be found in asking whether businesses can be formed around providing that something.