The Web is Better If You Let Websites Personalize it for You

Marissa Mayer
Former CEO of Yahoo! Inc.

As people are using the internet on their daily lives, the more of their personal information are stored there. Who owns the data and who can have the access, and for what purpose, is one of the most important factor in the controversial issues in the modern day of tech.

Internet has become a thing that can't be easily separated from our daily lives. People use emails, social media, and many other online services to ease their work and pleasure. Almost everything you see are tracked and stored.

Internet services do this so they can deliver the best experience to their users, but since the borderline between privacy and public fade, there is no limit what's private and what's not.

Yahoo!'s CEO Marissa Mayer manged to explain several things through the topic. She said that each individual is the owner of his or her personal information and ought to have the right to withhold it from companies, but if a person prefers to maintain the strictest standards of privacy on the internet, then his or her experience online will be subpar.

"It is almost undeniable at this point that the web is better today if you let some sites personalize it for you," she said. "People should have choice there, but that said, you will undoubtedly have a better experience online today if you let sites [you trust] know a little bit about who you are so that they can show you get the best possible content, show you the best possible messages."

As the leader of the giant internet portal, her company is one of the companies that caught the concerns of privacy fanatics. And not to mention after the first revelation of NSA's contractor Edward Snowden, privacy from the eyes of the government blurs.

Mayer explained that internet users can, and will have a better experience online if they give over more data. However, the more a site knows about its users, the more valuable it becomes to advertisers. And what lubes the engines that power internet companies including Yahoo! is ads.

Yahoo tracks users' web activities, and that includes their instant message conversations. This is for the company to find out what users like to do and how they spend their time.

All of this information is stored inside their database, and processed through computing power to personalize different internet experience even without the user's knowledge. Having all that information is priceless.

Despite this concern, Mayer says people should have control over their personal information. "In my view, you own your data. And so you should be able to, for example, withdraw it from a source. You should be able to say, I don't want my data stored here."

Mayer cited features such as Ad Choices, which allows people to understand and control how much data Yahoo! collects on them.

But no matter how good an internet company can keep that personal information and use it for their profit, some people sees this as a violation of personal privacy. Computer antivirus software maker John McAfee has gone so far as to say that these technological intrusions into our privacy degrade our humanity.

"Google, or at least certain people within Google - I will not mention names, because I am not a rude gentleman - would like us to believe that if we have nothing to hide, we should not mind if everybody knows everything that we do," said McAfee. "We cannot have intrusions into our lives and still have freedom."

The matter of someone's personal rights to own their data in the modern digital age has made many tech companies landed in issues.

Among them are European Union that ruled Google must delete "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" links in its search results, effectively asking the search giant to "forget" certain events from the past. Another incident came from Facebook that said it has manipulated the information of its News Feed to determine whether there would be effect on a person's psychological state.

All have came to one conclusion, the internet is growing and needs to be fed. One of the things that kept internet companies and online services are the information of their users. If you use the internet, you are subjected to experiments whether you like it or not. And that is undeniable.

That’s how websites work.