Have you noticed how privacy issues relating to the internet are increasingly at the forefront of news releases and blog discussions lately?
Most recently, Facebook’s launch of Instant Personalization is being challenged as too intrusive since this new feature automatically opts you into Partners, Pandora, Yelp, and Docs.com without notice.
Google has shown equal indifference to its users privacy when they opted in their users to Buzz, and behavioral targeting without consent. As Realtors, do we do any better in making public disclosures and respecting our website visitor’s privacy?
Before you answer that, how about a little reality check?
Do you use a real estate website client management system that monitors your visitors viewing habits while on your site? Do you disclose to them in big clear print at the point that they opt in that you will be watching what homes they are looking at? Or is your disclosure buried deep inside the small print of your Terms and Conditions page?
What I find interesting is that I have several Realtor friends with a strong political opinion that our government acts like our big brother and is too often trying to justify snooping into our private affairs. Yet they see no problem in having a website with a client management product that monitors their visitors every action “so they can help them better”. They don’t bother with an obvious disclosure so the visitor can make an informed decision because they fear that too many people may decide not to opt in. Let's face it, if you followed someone around in real life without having a relationship with them, you'd probably get arrested for stalking.
So, what do you think? Do you really believe that a new visitor that doesn’t know you yet will have enough trust to have some unknown person watching their every move while on your site? Or maybe you think it is OK not to disclose that little secret.