Private Data

Would you pay for Facebook or Google if it meant they stopped collecting your private data?

Is it worth paying for these services in exchange for data privacy?

Since it’s Friday – I thought I’d go a little off-topic today and talk about privacy & tech.

There’s a saying you may or may not have come across:

“If you’re not paying for it; you are the product”

To be fair, it’s probably not a new concept as marketing companies have always sought to leverage knowledge of consumer usage of products and services for decades.

However, with the rise of the internet, this adage is more true than ever. Just think about all the “free” services that you get to take advantage of every day:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pretty much any Social Media
  • All free news & media sites

And that’s barely scratching the surface. It’s free for one reason only – advertising. These companies make money from advertising just like companies did before the internet.

So what’s changed?

Well – it’s about your digital footprint and tracking.

In the past, newspapers would give away their product (or charge a pittance) but the trade-off was that the paper was littered with ads. But newspapers would have no idea what ads were looked at or even acted upon. Your privacy was secure.

Now? We can trace everything. We know exactly how many impressions, how many clicks, everything. What searches you make, what videos you watched, what comments you like. For instance, Facebook could easily tell where my political allegiance lies. And my sexual orientation. And the things I think are funny. And the issues I care about. And what kind of people my friends are. And what I like to do in my downtime etc.

And in the last decade, internet companies have gotten even better and connecting the dots of your digital footprint to create a pretty clear picture of what you look at.

Google recently announced sweeping changes to bring together all its separate data points to understand a complete picture of you – whenever you’re using one of their many services.

Many people are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with companies knowing so much about us.

So what’s the solution?

Well let me ask you this – Would you pay for Facebook or Google if it meant they stopped collecting your private data?

Would you pay a monthly subscription to Google safe in the knowledge that they are not collecting any data points about you? Or Facebook…? An ad-free Facebook and no data sold to anyone?

I’d consider it. Facebook’s tagline is “It’s free and always will be.”

Perhaps they’ll need to rethink that in the future.

What about you – would you pay for services if it guaranteed your anonymity and restored your privacy? Does privacy still matter in the post-internet world?