Did you know that 929 Kindle users highlighted the following phrase from Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom:
“faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.”
Or that 438 Kindle users reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice highlighted:
“Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
Or that 870 Kindle users highlighted the following from The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown:
“McTaggart’s book The Intention Experiment, and her global,Web-baesd study — theintentionexperiment.com — aimed”
Thanks to a new feature from Amazon, you can check and see what the most popular books and phrases highlighted by Kindle users as well as the most recent ones.
What’s it mean?
Well, in the case of the third reference, I would bet that most people just wanted to remember the website so they could see if the book and site actually exist (they do).
Slightly more ominously, though, it seems to mean that Amazon has learned little from last year’s kerfuffle when they remotely deleted thousands of copies of Animal Farm and 1984 from people’s Kindles.
As The New York Times reported, Amazon had been deleting other books as well though, in each case, the books were ones that should have never been available, put in the Kindle store by people who didn’t have the rights to them.
And while Amazon got a lot of flack — CEO Jeff Bezos posted an apology saying the way they handled the situation “stupid” and “thoughtless” — I kind of feel some of it was misguided. You buy a stolen car and the cops find out, you’re going to lose the car and there’s really nothing you’ll be able to do about it.
Where I think they deserved a lot of flack was the fact that they were able to remotely go into people’s devices showed an ability to infringe on people’s privacy.
And that’s where I think this highlighting thing comes in — I actually think it’s a much larger invasion of privacy than the deleting remotely. It’s one thing to recall a purchase that should have never been made it’s entirely different to be able to basically spy on someone, not only monitoring what they’re reading but what they’re highlighting.
Yes, it’s kind of interesting to know what others find interesting but it’s kind of disturbing that Amazon has the ability to collect that information.
And while Amazon says they’re not posting who underlined what, they still have the information.
It’s great that it’s becoming easier to buy books, store books and that reading e-books is becoming a more enjoyable experience. But it’s important to realize that as more and more people buy e-readers and we spend more time online, the ability to lose our privacy becomes a bigger and bigger threat.
Just ask the more than 100,000 iPad users whose email addresses were obtained by a security group that breached AT&T’s security.