Ethics and online data is a hot topic that’s still grabbing headlines two long weeks after the story of Facebook user data being harvested by dodgy marketing outfit Cambridge Analytica first broke on March 18. Facebook stock keeps going down and other techies are keen to distance themselves from The Zuck. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook being the two most high-profile to snub the social media giant.
Millions have deleted their Facebook accounts in disgust at the platform’s use of their personal data, but user data is the site’s currency and that’s not going to change. Facebook will just get a little more creative on how it turns that data into dollars. The site has gotten so good at gathering user data it cannot give it up. It doesn’t just record every click and “like” on the site. It collects browsing histories and purchases “external” data like financial information about users (European nations have regulations that block some of this). It even creates “shadow profiles” of nonusers from data provided by friends or from other data. In short, Facebook is a more successful surveillance operation that the Stasi. And all that information has to be legally worth something to someone.
Indeed, in ten years’ time it could be your Facebook data that’s used as a visa application when getting into a foreign country. Seems crazy, but when you look at World Economic Forum’s concept to use people’s online data as a tool for “secure and seamless travel” it doesn’t seem that crazy. And given US plans to have visa applicants hand in their social media history, it actually makes sense.
Facebook could add a small user charge for storing users’ data. Google and Microsoft already do this with their cloud services. Then, when people are travelling, instead of being stuck in the huge queue to manually fill out visa forms and be faced to interact with an actual human who asks questions, you can beep yourself through with a tap of your phone. Of course you won’t have to. It will just be made so convenient that you’ll actually want to.
In the meantime, the most obvious way to monetize Facebook is a user payment option. Zuckerberg has long vowed this won’t happen, but with users realizing that advertisers are Facebook’s true customers and regular users are the product, Facebook might offer a free account versus a premium account. On the premium account the user can choose to have no ads, or get to make some other tiny choices to make them feel like an individual.
The advertising dollars will also remain and grow for Zuck and crew. A new law is currently being thrashed out in Germany where companies cannot share user online data with other companies. That will shake up the market and give the likes of Google and Facebook a monopoly on data meaning they can charge premium rate. They hold all the data so companies won’t want to go anywhere else because no one else can reach their customers as well with targeting advertising.
If you like connecting with friends but care about your data and don’t like the idea of it being used against your will to sell you stuff you don’t need, use get2Clouds or one of the other NOS Apps messaging apps, ECards & Love Notes and Bother Me&U. They are all end-to-end encrypted and COST FREE AND AD FREE. We do not store your data or sell it to third parties. It just passes through our secure server to its destination. You’re welcome.