If anything, I'd say data is more valuable than oil. For one it's "renewable", but also the insight that can be gathered from data gives it a level of reach that even surpasses oil (which is very versatile in its own right).
Data breeches are the new oil spills, the destabilizing by-product of burning fossil fuels has a lot of similarity to how the largest data brokers can disrupt entire industries, political systems, and neighborhoods.
Data is a target for geo-political actors, whether it be slipping spyware into network infrastructure or tracking your own citizens.
When we look back 100 years from now, I won't be surprised if the events that occurred during the mass commercialization of oil (anti-trust, regulation, military action, productivity gains, facilitation of developing economies) also occur due to data.
Data without engagement is less valuable, unless you want to monetize it in less-ethical ways. For the time being, big tech companies aren't stooping to the level of outright selling user data, despite what critics claim.
And just like the production & consumption of oil, capitalizing on maximum user engagement produces some severe negative externalities—particularly in politics.
Tech companies are simply the people routing mammoths off a cliff to keep the party going, consciously ignoring the idea that the food will run out soon.
Most of the data collected by silicon valley companies is completely irrelevant to their or anyone else's business needs. It's just creepy. Kind of like the people who build such systems.
None of the social network companies sell user data. They sell ad placement, and use user data to target the ad audience. Selling ads is not selling data. When I think of selling data I think of companies that actually sell data. Equifax or MaxMind, for example.
Oil and gas drilling alone are 2-3% of world GDP, which comes to about $2 trillion dollars. Facebook and Google make about $100 billion in combined ad revenue. I think it’s safe to say oil is probably 10x more valuable than social network advertising.
> Data breeches are the new oil spills
Comparing credit card fraud with ecological pollution and death?
Data on its own is not that valuable, but it's a crucial commodity that when monetized generates value that I'd say are more valuable than oil. Companies are using data to optimize supply chains, reducing spending, generating value. Others are using data to recommend you products that you're more likely to buy, increasing profit, generating value. High quality data is the ultimate commodity, the insights derived from it can lead to much more value than oil, that's the main point of my comment.
But data is still extremely important. I think it might be more analogous to say that data has become as important as finance. Without finance a lot of things grind to a halt. Without data, I'd argue, a lot of things would grind to a halt. (Maybe even more things would grind to a halt than if finance disappeared?)
But yes, without oil, (or, even better, without energy in general), everything grinds to a halt. It all stops.
It's an analogy, precisely because the general populace still doesn't understand how drastic the impact a data breach is, but they sure do understand what a duck looks like full of tar. Depending on what type of data breach it is (credit card, social, healthcare, etc) then yes the implications can be potentially dire.
Extreme, but plausible examples of "yes this means death and polluted environments too":
- Ransomware in a healthcare IT system that doesn't allow doctors to view patients data if they don't pay the crypto ransom
- Credit availability to someone paying for healthcare or some other life altering purchase but can't because their identity was stolen or credit score was impacted. Not to mention the emotional distress caused by bankruptcy (undue).
- Civil unrest resulting from data breaches used for manipulation/propaganda targeting reasons (see -> Brexit and 2016 presidential election)
Twitter does  and it's worth noting that fb has considered it . I think it's fair to say this may be more and more attractive as the industry matures and new avenues for marketing data emerge.
No, I can't see that. If your going to accuse people of things, please explain what you mean and furnish some evidence.
EDIT: It looks like your account is new. How do you know what was happening here two years ago? Did you change accounts or just lurk?
At least Google and Facebook only take what you give them.
Yellowpages told the public. That is the point.
Well, no. But assuming for the sake of argument that were true; scale is important. Quantity has a quality all of it's own.
Historically it was the government that was pushing for surveillance for security reasons, now companies push surveillance (although not obvious to them and their employees?) for financial gain.
All and all, I have a very positive outlook on the whole situation.
Grouping these companies together as big tech and these brushing broad strokes isn’t helpful. It just seems like we’re picking the next bogeyman, sort of like how all the oil companies were grouped together, even though there were specific bad actors.
It distorts the real issues and almost emboldens the other side who now work collectively to dismiss you as a tin foil conspiracy peddler.
In my opinion, Facebook has some real issues with privacy and how they are able to legally provide a service that has taken the worst aspects of society and amplified them 1000x. Politics are more cancerous than ever. People have been murdered because of the misinformation and hate speech propaganda. Meanwhile, one of my best friends who works at FB as a senior engineer is convinced they’re changing the world for the better.
Amazon, for instance, has fueled massive inequality in the Seattle area. As far as I know, they’re not selling customer data, although from what I’ve learned, they combined technology with great ideas on how to skirt regulation.
My point being, a company like Amazon vs. Facebook - there are different issues. Grouping Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft together - its like the right wing conspiracy theories on how the Mueller investigation is a conspiracy funded by Soros, Obama, the Clintons, the Muslim brotherhood, and gays.
This isn’t helpful and it distracts from the real issues.
The specific companies are not contributing to each effect but on aggregate its a valid method of analyzing the societal impacts of the industry.
In my neck of the woods, if I tell people, "Amazon treats their employees like crap." They get it.
If I say, "Google can track your location with android phones so don't bring your phone to see your weed man." They get it.
I can even say, "Facebook is full of Ruskies trying to influence the election." They'll get it. They'll know what I mean and everything that entails.
But if I come at the people in my small town with, "Big Tech is what drives wealth inequity by disrupting traditional labor markets and causing data privacy issues. Which, of course, concert to cause knock on effects in the larger economy." Yeah, that's the kind of post-graduate parrot-speak that makes them look at my mother disapprovingly for raising such a pretentious ass-hat.
I gotta agree with the guy using the throwaway account on this one.
We, all of us, even the most rational and hard-headed, have buttons that can be pushed. Google and Facebook have gotten, and will continue to get, better and better at pushing our buttons, so that we will do things that may not be in our best interest. Advertisers have always tried to push our buttons, but never had access to the data, and the ML algorithms, that Google and Facebook deploy today. The datasets continue to grow, and the algorithms continue to improve. And no one is stopping it, and no one really knows how far it will go.
"According to Zuboff, surveillance capitalism distinguishes itself from its industrial forebear as “a new economic order that claims human experience as a free source of raw material.” "
The business model is the same as Facebook's: advertisers paying for the right to attempt to modify viewers' behavior.
The difference is that Facebook has much more information about the viewers, and much more control over what is shown to individual viewers, than TV networks ever did.
Everyone who has looked up "what Facebook knows about me" can tell stories about how wildly wrong some of Facebook's guesses are. However, unlike the TV networks or the NY Times, Facebook will get better with time. Will we get better at resisting its manipulations?
It's the ability to manipulate (reinforce, push horrible narratives) that causes the problem. Back in the usenet days of the 90s, it was exciting to meet people like me (programmer, geeky, interested in science, liberal, or whatever). There must have been people pushing racism, nationalism, everything is a conspiracy, but why didn't that cause the trouble we have today? Probably because it wasn't so ubiquitous.
FTFY: People [in the public sphere] do stuff, they write it down for free and sell it to people.
This has become a meme around here to laud articles like this that use not so subtle words like "surveillance" and "manipulate" to suggest that something much more nefarious is going on here than actually is.
There are already adequate protections in place to deal with these issues. If you don't want to be tracked don't use Facebook or Google or use them and opt out of tracking. It's that simple.
We don't need these hyperbolic articles exaggerating the nature of this problem.
People have been collecting data on us before the digital age.
Credit Card Companies, Banks, and Credit Bureau's have long maintained profiles on us and sold them to partners.
We need such articles to remind people of what they are getting them-self into and encourage communities to build alternative solutions. Remember those few privacy settings provided by tech companies are result of such stories.
Data that was collected before on an average citizen is puny as compared to what they collect now.
Are you referring to data breaches? Not sure what protections you think will prevent them.
> There are no settings provided by tech companies that let use use there services in total anonymous way.
Again, these aren't essential services that you have to use. You can use Google via Duck Duck Go if you like.
You can't use Facebook but you can use What's App if you want end to end encryption.
> Do you think gmail will ever implement end-to-end encrypted email service ever?
I believe they already provide a browser plugin for pgp encryption.
Full end to end encryption would probably require changes to existing email protocols.
> We need such articles to remind people of what they are getting them-self into.
This is a valid point, however the hyperbolic tone of these articles is off putting to me.
I think these companies are handling data in a responsible way.
A more rational conversation around the real risks of these data collection practices, the value of the data,and the exchange of this data for services would be more enlightening, IMO.
Too often these articles and the comments degenerate into X is bad and this bad without any nuance.
Also, as I have stated, it is very easy to not use these services.
> encourage communities to build alternative solutions
I'm all for this. What I am not in favor is asking the government to force these private companies to make these.
> Data that was collected before on an average citizen is puny as compared to what they collect now.
I worked at Credit Card companies a long time ago, and I wouldn't call the data they collected on people puny. In many cases these companies had access to every purchase a person made, every place they lived, their income, etc.
To me that is very sensitive information.
Again, I would like a rational conversation around how is the information that is being collective sensitive.
That might actually be more useful to people.
In addition, if you are a US citizen then you can have hopes that there are or will be laws governing this, but for everyone else it is quite different.
I think this problem won't go away even if google or facebook didn't exist. This is a fundamental problem of the internet.
To say "privacy advocates" are disingenuous is a huge understatement.
I think the momentum of deleting our presence on these sites will continue to increase, but I also believe that it should be allowed to happen organically. Regulating this space without allowing people to realize its harmful effects and make the decision for themselves will only further polarize our society.
Edit: Since I'm being down-voted, I should clarify that I definitely support some level of intervention. I would prefer that to take the form of educating people on the importance of preserving their privacy.
Someone didn't see the video where the Facebook SDK, packaged into other apps, was sending all of the information plausible/possible back to Facebook - before the Terms and Conditions of the application could even be accepted.
The problem is far greater than you've perceived it to be.
 - https://media.ccc.de/v/35c3-9941-how_facebook_tracks_you_on_...
How is it a problem with Facebook when they have released this software free of charge for any developer to use? Again, just like the Facebook website, it is a product that they offer.
Also, how in the feck do you propose avoiding using apps with the Facebook SDK included? It's not as if such use is advertised by the apps, yeah?
From your argument, it's free, so why the feck should anyone complain? That's pretty banal: Trading subversive data practices for the cost of it being "free" should never have been an acceptable position for anyone to take, in the first place - no matter who it is.
I find that you can't make people adopt better habits and views on things (nevermind the fact that "better" is in the eye of the beholder). The best thing you can do is educate the person looking to be educated, because they'd be not only the ones looking for ways to improve, but also the ones far more open to new information. Otherwise, people remain stubborn, sometimes counteroffensively so.
That impulse – to be willing to learn of better ways to handle the world – gotta start somewhere. I reckon schools ought to have some sort of modern technology education, swift and fleeting as it currently is. Not learning the apps in itself, but navigating the nature of the Internet as a cultural phenomenon, in the way that people use it.
One thing they better learn early is that sharing personal information online might be harmful, and the effects may last well into their adulthood, whether they realize it or not. That it's not all bad, but they may want to remain careful about what, where, and when they share — not just for themselves, but for others, as well.
I suggest watching Moxie Marlinspike's keynote for Defcon 18: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG0KrT6pBPk
This is my own very clumsy summary. I strongly recommend watching the video, because Moxie is much better at explaining this than I am.
The existence of other communication mediums does not absolve Facebook and others of their role in consolidating the major communication mediums into their portfolio. A bunch of (mostly) white, male millennial Americans should not be controlling the worlds communication. And I say this as a millennial.
I don’t quite understand why people’s concern over Facebook centralizing and controlling communication for the entire world (and censoring it) is somehow hysteria or an overreaction.
What about their efforts to diversify their (very well-paid) workforce? Helping connect families and friends living across the world, particularly during natural disasters or other emergencies? All of the research they have done and shared with the world at top conferences?
> The existence of other communication mediums does not absolve Facebook and others of their role in consolidating the major communication mediums into their portfolio. A bunch of (mostly) white, male millennial Americans should not be controlling the worlds communication. And I say this as a millennial.
Is it any different from any other major media organization that exists today?
> I don’t quite understand why people’s concern over Facebook centralizing and controlling communication for the entire world (and censoring it) is somehow hysteria or an overreaction.
I definitely think people should be concerned. I think that we should make an effort to make more people concerned. I just think that having the government impose restrictions on Facebook (because too many people enjoy the benefits I described above) might not be the best approach to this problem.
Like everything in this world, everything has to be done in balance. Some people can't deal with alcohol and become alcoholics, some people can't deal with gambling and become ludomanics etc. but most people have perfectly fine and balanced relationships.
People can choose not to use these mediums and they do so. Every kind of progress goes through a phase of maturation where we learn about the positive and negative sides and adjust over time to it.
Social media is a reflection of humans and it will always amplify the negative sides as well as (luckily) the positive sides.
Any regulators that impose sactions on Facebook are only doing so on behalf of those they really work for (corporate interests jealous of Facebook's success, most likely).
When I say organically, I mean this way! Keep having the discussion with as many people as possible. Delete your social media profiles and tell your friends and family why. Voice your concerns in person, print, and online.
Deleting accounts and telling people why just disconnects you from those people that still use those services (speaking from experience). It doesn’t matter what you tell them. Even if they understand the situation nobody can connect the issue to any tangible negative effects on their individual lives, and nobody else is deleting their accounts (despite what the online echo chambers might lead you to believe). My grandma is not gonna stop using facebook and go to the trouble of email. My sister’s not gonna stop using instagram no matter what I or anyone else tells her. My colleagues are not gonna stop using GMail because it’s a pain to switch addresses and there aren’t any really clear alternatives.
And how many people even have someone in their social circle who will even talk about this?
And that’s before you consider the huge chunk of Facebooks user base which lives in third world countries where the only affordable way to get online is via cheap/free data plans which are heavily subsidised by facebook.
Pushing this problem onto consumers/users to find an ‘organic solution’ is dead in the water before you even start. You’re asking people to give up something which is super convenient and has no immediate tangible cost or negative effect on them personally. The organic solution is what is currently happening, and ignoring how badly this strategy fails is just going to make it worse.
I don't want a world where I pay for everything. When I was a child, I used a whole bunch of ad supported websites that only existed because they were ad supported.
Everyone wants to coddle people and ensconce them in layers of paternalistic nonsense. FYI I would happily sell the private data I did then in exchange for the service I received a hundred times over.
Those forums and websites were the ones that led to me being what I am today. Even a ten cent fee would have crippled my ability to grow into what I'm today because I had no means to pay it online.
Enough with your bullshit. Let me be a goddamn person and give people things voluntarily so they can give me things voluntarily. Just stop inserting yourselves into every interaction I have with other people that's between the two of us.
Instead now everyone wants to create this environment where I can't sell my private data because it's a bloody adventure to try to invalidate my right to then delete myself immediately.
It's okay now because I make a half million a year and my kids will be fine. But the next me won't be so lucky.
There's a middle ground, called "regulation".
For many decades now there have been rules regulating advertisements ("commercial speech"), sources of addictive behavior (gambling, alcohol, cigarettes), and monopolies. It seems reasonable to propose that these rules should apply to Facebook and other "new media", to the extent that they are ad-supported, may promote addictive behavior, and may be monopolies.
Applying these regulations to the internet does not mean shutting down ad-supported websites, any more than they prevented ad-supported newspapers and TV stations from thriving back in the day.
There was a story yesterday about how Twitter had a bug on Android that toggled a setting by mistake and people were clamoring for heavy penalties, that this should be illegal, that these companies need to die in a fire. Over a simple bug that’s probably of a class that literally every developer on this site has made many times.
Reddit is even worse. Anything critical of these companies, no matter how minor or untrue, garners tens of thousands of upvotes and a pitchfork-wielding mob in the comments. Good luck trying to explain that we need reasonable regulation but that Mark will still be a billionaire running one of the world’s most valuable companies and getting richer off ads.
But currently, we need more regulation, not less, on internet companies whose business model is based on selling your attention to persuaders at a time when you are most vulnerable to persuasion. So although I don't favor nationalization, and I don't begrudge Zuckerberg his vast wealth, I want to see things move in the direction of more regulation, not less.
There is a slippery slope no matter where you stand, but yet, you have to stand somewhere.
Toxic substances, willful enslavement, extreme firearms, explosives, biological weapons. Or even simpler, choosing to operate a personal vehicle without insurance (even if you assert you’re willing to bear the financial risks it entails). The list is probably a lot longer than this.
What we’re just waking up to is that wealth centers are capable of degrees of engineering for behavioral tracking to support a scope of privacy intrusion that average citizens (or even coalitions of fairly sophisticated citizens) are absolutely nowhere close to being able to understand or cope with.
There is simply no decision making framework that exists today in which we can possibly understand how a person consenting to this data collection would be at risk in the future, how their friends or children who possibly did not consent might be at risk by extension, and so on.
Just as a libertarian extreme notion of simply letting free parties consent to a transaction falls apart when you’re talking about buying or selling a supervirus, so too does it fall apart when you’re talking about letting people “opt in” to having their entire sensory trail of generated behavioral data be commercialized.