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In today’s digital world, handing over your personal data feels like a necessary evil. It’s nearly impossible to make a dinner reservation, create a new account, send flowers, or even pay a bill without having to enter a phone number, sign up for a newsletter or accept a website’s cookies.
As our daily lives become more virtual, the demand to offer personal information in exchange for everyday necessities or conveniences becomes unavoidable. This has users shouting from the rooftops about the importance of privacy and data protection. But users need help.
To do this, we must think of privacy as the empty state, the default. It’s not something to be gained, it’s something to be lost. Think of it this way: When you meet a new friend, you gradually volunteer information about yourself as you build a relationship with that person. Based on varying degrees of familiarity and trust, over time you choose what to share about yourself, peeling apart the onion of your own identity one conversation or fun fact at a time.
Peeling away layers of digital identity
Our digital privacy is much the same. Every action, transaction, search, and bookmark peels away the layers of our digital identity, one tap at a time. What is different, though, is that decision piece — we’re not always in control of who or what we share this information with. Right now we’re largely at the mercy of the applications we choose to interact with.
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Even when users have the option to protect their privacy, they oftentimes still put themselves at risk. The Privacy Paradox — a norm among users — is defined as the dichotomy between a person’s intentions to protect their online privacy in contrast with how they actually behave online, ultimately compromising their privacy. How ironically consistent with our human desire to have the cake and eat it too. But if users aren’t looking out for their own digital privacy, who will? The very companies that depend on our data. And now more than ever, there’s incentive for them to step up.
The evidence is already there: Trust sells. Organizations that prioritize privacy and trust get rewarded by users. That’s why 90% of businesses say they consider privacy a business imperative, with 71% identifying loyalty and trust specifically as their top priority. So, how can companies cash in by building trust with users online today?
Transparency in data usage
Users want transparency on how their information is being used. It’s that simple. When organizations take the extra step to include privacy statements or a promise that they will not share information with third parties, it eases the user’s mind. Companies can also address mandatory data regulations on their websites to be outspoken about their compliance with such laws. It’s this simple reinforcement that might result in the user feeling more comfortable spending time on a website, and in turn, becoming a paying member of the community.
Consent to use data
In real life — away from the internet — a company would never follow you around, taking notes on everything you do without your permission. So why are they doing it to users online? At a base level, users want to be respected, and the easiest way to do that is to ask for consent.
Organizations need to establish best practices and best-in-class solutions for identity management and data protection. Whether it’s the use of third-party tools like two-step verification for access management, data encryption, or an out-of-the-box end-to-end encryption service, companies must employ modern architecture that’s designed to protect data throughout all stages of the data lifecycle.
The internet is here to stay, and the demand for intimate information is only going to increase as we move deeper into a digital world. We know that users will not act in their best interest when it comes to privacy, but still, the demand for privacy is there. That’s why companies who address consumer pressure can prioritize privacy as a competitive advantage, allowing them to bring in users and keep them around for good.
Vuk Janosevic is the co-founder and CEO of Blindnet.
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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window
NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch, stalled by Hurricane Ian, has a new target for takeoff. The launch window for step one of NASA’s bold plan to return humans to the lunar surface now opens Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 27, the space agency said Friday.
The news comes after the pending storm caused NASA to scrub the latest Artemis I Iaunch, which had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2. As Hurricane Ian threatened to travel north across Cuba and into Florida, bringing rain and extreme winds to the launch pad’s vicinity, NASA on Monday rolled its monster Space Launch System rocket, and the Orion spacecraft it’ll propel, back indoors to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
The hurricane made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, bringing with it a catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding that left dozens of people dead, caused widespread power outages and ripped buildings from their foundations. Hurricane Ian is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” US President Joe Biden said on Friday, adding that it will take “months, years, to rebuild.”
Initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts of the devastating storm to Artemis I flight hardware showed no damage, NASA said. “Facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations,” the agency said in a statement.
Next up, teams will complete post-storm recovery operations, which will include further inspections and retests of the flight termination system before a more specific launch date can be set. The new November launch window, NASA said, will also give Kennedy employees time to address what their families and homes need post-storm.
Artemis I is set to send instruments to lunar orbit to gather vital information for Artemis II, a crewed mission targeted for 2024 that will carry astronauts around the moon and hopefully pave the way for Artemis III in 2025. Astronauts on that high-stakes mission will, if all goes according to plan, put boots on the lunar ground, collect samples and study the water ice that’s been confirmed at the moon’s South Pole.
The hurricane-related Artemis I rollback follows two other launch delays, the first due to an engine problem and the second because of a hydrogen leak.
Hurricane Ian has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but is still bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Mid-Atlantic region and the New England coast.
What You Get in McDonalds’ New Happy-Meal-Inspired Box for Adults
You’ve pulled up to McDonald’s as a full-on adult. You absolutely do not need a toy with your meal, right? Joking. Of course you do.
The fast-food chain will soon sell boxed meals geared toward adults, and each one has a cool, odd-looking figurine inside.
The meal has an odd name — the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box — that’s based on the fashion brand collaborating with McDonald’s on this promotion.
According to McDonald’s, the box is inspired by the memory of enjoying a Happy Meal as a kid. The outside of the box is multicolored and features the chain’s familiar golden arches.
The first day you can get a Cactus Plant Flea Market Box will be Monday, Oct. 3. Pricing is set by individual restaurants and may vary, according to McDonald’s. It’ll be available in the drive-thru, in-restaurant, by delivery or on the McDonald’s app, while supplies last.
You can choose between a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets. It will also come with fries and a drink.
Now about those toys. The boxes will pack in one of four figurines. Three of the four appear to be artsy takes on the classic McDonald’s characters Grimace, Hamburglar and Birdie the Early Bird, while the fourth is a little yellow guy sporting a McDonald’s shirt called Cactus Buddy.
In other McD news, Halloween buckets could be returning to the chain this fall. So leave some room in your stomach for a return trip.
Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements
To avoid potential blowback from a skeptical audience, retailers as well as media and entertainment companies are learning to invest in their homegrown intellectual properties while building virtual brand activations inside Roblox or Fortnite.
Take, for instance, when they get it wrong.
Earlier this week, Walmart launched its own Roblox world — called Walmart Land — and was roundly mocked for it across social media given the announcement’s disjointed brand message and apparent lack of life. In one viral tweet, a Twitter user described a clip of Walmart CMO William White introducing the Roblox space as “one of the saddest videos ever created.”
To some extent, this sort of criticism is to be expected during the early days of the metaverse.
“Walmart is an iconic brand; when you see them coming into a platform like Roblox, people are going to be 10 times more critical of what is being launched,” said Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of the Roblox developer studio Supersocial.
But Walmart’s size is not its only disadvantage as it dips its toes into Roblox. Although Walmart has a widely recognizable brand, it owns few intellectual properties that users are actually interested in experiencing virtually — a shortcoming reflected by the somewhat cavernous emptiness of Roblox’s Walmart Land.
The success of other recent brand activations is evidence that media and entertainment brands are better equipped to build metaverse spaces that can dodge online skepticism, thanks to their wealth of owned IP.
“They are having to reinvent themselves, to a certain degree, but that is in their DNA,” said Jesse Streb, global svp of technology and engineering at the agency DEPT. “So they have a unique advantage over, say, some kludgy company that sells lumber, or a construction company.”
For example, iHeartMedia’s Roblox and Fortnite spaces were inspired by the mass media corporation’s wealth of popular real-life events, such as the Jingle Ball Tour and iHeartRadio Music Festival, with virtual versions of musicians like Charlie Puth performing pre-recorded concerts that allow real-time audience interaction.
“There’s a strong brand association with the IP, down to a station level — you’re in the New York area, you probably know Z100,” said iHeartMedia evp of business development and partnerships Jess Jerrick. “The same is true for the event IP, or the IP that we now have in the podcasting space, and of course our radio broadcast talent. So there’s no shortage of really strong IP we can bring into these spaces.”
Translating real-life properties into the metaverse is also an enticing prospect for brands that view metaverse platforms as an experimental marketing channel, allowing them to bring tried-and-true IP into their virtual activations instead of designing them from the ground level. This was part of the strategy behind the recent Tonight Show activation in Fortnite Creative, which was designed in collaboration between NBCUniversal and Samsung. “We’re looking at it holistically — how do we find fans in new ways, and use IP that fans love in new ways?” said NBCU president of advertising and client partnerships Mark Markshall.
Since opening on Sept. 14, iHeartLand has already enticed over 1.5 million Roblox users to visit. The company aims to retain that attention with a schedule of virtual programming featuring popular musicians and personalities.
“At our core, we are essentially an influencer network; our broadcast talent are some of the most connected, most engaging influencers at work in media today,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeart Digital Audio Group. “That gives us this sort of superpower, to be able to go into new-ish platforms, like Roblox or Fortnite, because we talk to our listeners through those influencers.”
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