The World Wide Web is the most impressive tool of its time, but the internet can also be a scary and unsafe place for us all. Instead of using the internet’s tools, we instead have become the product. *Companies use data that they have collected about us to make us attractive to advertisers without a thought on if the type of marketing we receive is healthy or helpful. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article about social media platform TikTok questioning if they should be banned by the U.S. Government. Within this article, Bowdeya Tweh, a journalist for the WSJ, questioned the security concerns around TikTok and conveyed some surprising information. The social media platform, which is now the sixth most popular platform in the U.S., collects location data and the user’s internet address. It also stores a user’s browsing history, the type of device the application is being used on and retains private messages that are exchanged between users. With a majority of TikTok’s clientele being under the age of 25, it’s concerning that private data can be made public or be sold to third parties. Advertisers particularly can target individuals using algorithms.
“If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product”
The internet is too advanced to be able to back track or shut down, and with that, too much of OUR information is up for grabs. Why? Because there is simply not enough regulation. Unfortunately, if you want a free service or product then you automatically have to give up your civil rights and expose your data to the many companies and organizations out there that can utilize it. What companies could do is have us give permission to use certain data. Data is a human right, which is being exploited, without our knowledge. Since there is almost no regulation around personal/private data, the internet seems to be spinning out of control. In recent years the government has called on these internet companies to testify in senate hearings to explain how they collect data, how they then use it, how they share it and how they plan on protecting the consumer, if at all. Unfortunately, there is still no legislation or law protecting our data and privacy.
With this being said it is clear that our private data has become a lucrative industry, if we were to consider its value, one could suggest that it even surpasses oil. Ringlead.com suggests that 97% of businesses use data to power their business opportunities and 76% of businesses use data as an integral part of forming a business strategy. Media Reports also states that in the case of market value, American tech company Apple has surpassed Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco. According to the new data, Apple’s market value is $184,000 million, while the market capital of Saudi Aramco is currently $176,000 million. This is only one of the many oil companies. Facebook and Google alone are worth $1.3 trillion versus the combined value of the top five non-chines oil companies, valued at $1.1 trillion.
When oil is drilled from the ground, it is not ready for use and instead needs to be refined and transported, and in doing so its value increases. Data, on the other hand is purely a collection of knowledge, studies and truths. Data can be used instantly adding to its value even more. In addition, any commodity including gold and silver, has limited supply available whereas data and the collection of it, is infinite.
So whats next? I think that oil industry is a dying one and eventually oil as a resource will become scarce. We will most likely be living on energy as a resource and using AI and data more than ever.
For a more in-depth understanding of data privacy and what’s to come, I recommend Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. Professionals that have worked for Google, Facebook, Pinterest and other influential companies, give their explanation and thoughts towards social media, its capabilities and how data is consumed.
*Companies meaning Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Google etc.
Agrba, L. (2019). Consumer Data is More Valuable Than Oil. Do You Know Your Digital Worth? Retrieved October, 2020, from http://www.industryandbusiness.ca/technology/consumer-data-is-more-valuable-than-oil-do-you-know-your-digital-worth
Tweh, Bowdeya. “Is TikTok Getting Banned in the U.S.? It’s Complicated. Here’s Everything You Need to Know.” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2020.
Orlowski, Jeff. The Social Dilemma. 9 Sept. 2020, www.netflix.com/watch/81254224?trackId=14170287.
Data Is the World’s Most Valuable Resource. (2019, September 04). Retrieved October, 2020, from https://www.ringlead.com/blog/data-is-the-worlds-most-valuable-resource/
Newdna. (2020, August 04). “Data is the new oil”, Apple surpasses Saudi Arabia’s Aramco. Retrieved October, 2020, from https://newsdna.in/data-is-new-oil-apple-surpasses-saudi-arabias-aramco/