I am a huge fan and frequent user of Pandora, the internet radio station that plays songs based on learned music preferences (if you like the Avett Brothers, it knows you will probably also like Dave Matthews, etc.). Pandora is an overwhelmingly popular online radio network app for computers, smart phones and the iTouch. It provides listeners with an informed collection of songs and play-lists based on a comprehensive analysis of over 400 qualities of a song that make it specifically appealing to you. While the financial cost to users appears at first site to be nothing (if you don’t mind the occasional ad), the privacy cost can be exponentially high with Pandora selling your web-surfing habits to advertisers.
Pandora clearly states in its FAQ that they are sharing information such as your age and gender with advertisers.
“…the free version of Pandora is mostly supported by advertisements, and we want to be able to show the most relevant ads to our listeners… Since this means that you’re more likely to see an ad that’s relevant to you, we hope it’s a good thing for our listeners as well as for our advertisers, and therefore also for Pandora as a whole.”
So are they sharing more sensitive identity information? While Pandora admits that they share your age and gender, a recent Wall Street Journal Article says they are sharing more. They state that Pandora shares age, gender, location, and phone ID information with marketing firms on both its iPhone and Android mobile versions. So while advertisers won’t have your name and email address, they’ll get their hands on a lot of info about your mobile phone behavior.
Just remember when you log into Pandora and stream your free music play list, there is a cost. When you are getting something for “FREE”, there is always a cost, and it’s often your personal information. While you may not be able to immediately understand the financial impact of this, just know that your privacy is slowly flowing out of your control – one song at a time.
To increase your privacy on Pandora, visit www.pandora.com/privacysettings and restrict access as much as possible.
Is your organization trying to stem the flow of information leakage via identity theft, corporate espionage, data breach and social networking exposure? Contact keynote speaker John Sileo to inspire your audience to change their poor privacy habits from the inside out.