Tag Archives: newsletters

Online Privacy, Security and Newsletters

I’ve just come from Indies Unlimited, one of my favourite websites because of all the free information they provide to Indie authors. The article that prompted this post concerns the new EU regulations and how they relate to newsletters. One of the key facts in the article is that people who use newsletter companies, such as Mailchimp, will have to ask their European subscribers to formally ‘opt in’.

I strongly recommend that everyone who uses a newsletter to communicate with subscribers take a close look at this article:

https://www.indiesunlimited.com/2018/05/14/authors-with-newsletters-must-get-subscribers-to-opt-in-again-per-eu-regulations/comment-page-1/#comment-3488092908471512056

After reading the article, I was curious to see what Mailchimp had to say about the new EU regulations. What I found was not really a surprise, but it did concern me enough to write the following comment:

Great post, RJ and something all Indies have to look at very seriously, because very few know exactly what the Newsletter companies are doing with their own data and the data of their /subscribers/. This ignorance, and the responsibility that goes with it, will not disappear with a simple opt-in form.
I don’t use a newsletter service but I decided to check out your link to Mailchimp, as it’s a very popular one. The following quotes are taken straight from their various pages:
INFO COLLECTED
‘That information may include your IP address….and other information about how you interacted with our Websites or other websites.’
[the important bit is ‘or OTHER websites]

TRACKING DEVICES & PERSONAL INFO
‘In some cases we may use cookies and other tracking technologies described in this Cookie Statement to collect Personal Information, or to collect information that becomes Personal Information if we combine it with other information.’
[the important bit is ‘that becomes Personal Information if we combine it with other information’]

THIRD PARTIES
‘The third parties that set these third party cookies can /recognise/ your computer both when it visits the website or service in question and also when it visits /certain other websites or services/.’
[the important bit is that Third Parties can include every tech company on the internet including Facebook, Google, Amazon and countless others. Seriously].

TRACKING SUBSCRIBERS
We also enable our users [that’s people who use Mailchimp for newsletters] to employ cookies and similar tracking technologies in connection with their use of our Services in order to allow us and our users to track their subscribers.
[the important bit is ‘to track their subscribers’].

“Do Not Track” or “DNT” signals. Since uniform standards for “DNT” signals have not been adopted, our Websites do not currently process or respond to “DNT” signals. MailChimp takes privacy and meaningful choice seriously and will make efforts to continue to monitor developments around DNT browser technology and the implementation of a standard.
[the important bit is that Mailchimp IGNORES do not track requests. In other words, until they’re forced to obey, your choices don’t matter doodly squat to them].

Now that the EU is bringing in such strong regulations [and other countries may follow], we all have to make choices about how we treat other people’s privacy and security [because data gathered by ad companies can be hacked and used by anybody with the technical skills].

I don’t use any of the newsletter companies, but I know that in the past I’ve signed up for newsletters from online friends and colleagues. Now I’m quietly seething because I am very concerned about my privacy and online security. That’s why I deleted my Facebook account AND deleted everything to do with Google. To learn that I’ve been spied on like this is…not pleasant.

I know that most of you don’t see the privacy/security issue the same way that I do, but I’m asking you to please consider those who get caught up in it without any idea that it’s happening to them.

Not happy,

Meeks

 


Amazon ‘follows’? – when did that happen?

Amazon followOkay, I admit I can be a bit unobservant at times but seriously, when did Amazon make it possible to follow your favourite authors [and have fun doing it]?

I have to assume the Amazon follows happened sometime after the purchase of Goodreads because the concept is like a mashup between how Goodreads allows you to rank your favourite books and Amazon’s own, recommendations.

On the off chance that you haven’t noticed Amazon follows either, here’s how you do it:

 

  • Login in to Amazon
  • Search for one of your favourite authors
  • Click the big, yellow ‘Follow’ button beneath the author’s photo, and then click on the ‘See more recommended authors’ link:

Amazon follow see more

That link will take you to a window like this:

Amazon follow 3 categories

The recommendations are divided into 3 main categories [not including the ‘starred’ authors right at the top of the page]:

  1. Suggestions Based on Authors You Follow [these are the authors you’ve just followed via the big, yellow button],
  2. Suggested Authors Based on Books You’ve Rated [these are the authors who have written books you’ve rated/reviewed],
  3. Popular Authors on Amazon [these are best selling authors that Amazon is plugging]

As soon as you click ‘follow’ on one of the authors, you are taken to a sub-page where authors similar to that first one are displayed.

One click leads to another, and you suddenly look up to realise you’ve spent close to two hours clicking away and cudgeling your brain for the names of authors from the mists of time.

I cannot lie, I really, really enjoyed myself. 🙂 Not only did I get to go down memory lane with my favourite authors, past and present, but I also found myself jotting down the names of unknown authors [supposedly] similar to one of my favourites. This means I have new avenues to explore and at least the potential of discovering new favourite authors. As an avid reader, I like that.

But Amazon’s follows appear to have a deeper purpose. In fact they probably have a number of deeper purposes. The two I can think of immediately are :

  1. information on reading habits, supplied voluntarily and to great depth, by customers, and
  2. newsletter fodder

Did you notice the heading at the top of the page?

Be the First to Know When Your Favorite Authors Release New Books.

That was not there just for show. I fully expect to receive newsletter recommendations based on every new book being published by every author I have followed. And that is a good thing.

As Indie authors, we are regularly told to build email lists so we can let our fans know what we’re doing, and when we’re bringing out something new.

It’s good advice, but I never have sent out newsletters [and probably never will] because I know what I do with most of those newsletters. Sorry, but unless you are one of my absolute favourite authors, I won’t read your newsletter. There are not enough hours in the day.

My personal time management issues aside, however, I love the idea that Amazon, for it’s own benefit, will do something I am incapable of doing for myself – i.e. spruiking my next novel. Of course that assumes that some of you will -cough- follow me -cough- so Amazon has someone to send a newsletter to….

Anyway, moving right along, it’s a great idea and I’ll certainly be going back to add more follows. I think I’m up to about 71 already, and most of those are straight out of my Kindle and Kindle Fire. My next step will be to go through my bookshelves, pen and paper in hand, writing down the names of all the old authors I’ve missed – Alfred Bester, Asimov, Connie Willis, Dostoyevski, Dickens, George Eliott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle….

 

 

 


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