When it’s Free, You’re the Product

People are saying that the world’s most valuable source is no longer oil, but instead it’s data. This is likely hyperbolic (I don’t believe we can compare oil, a finite resource to data, a rapidly growing commodity), however it is undeniable that data is worth an immense fortune.

Data is being collected from so many angles it makes my head spin. It is increasingly apparent that we are making an interesting exchange for certain services: we are trading convenience for personal privacy.

Google was an early pioneer of this. Beginning in the late 90s, Google became very effective at indexing the Internet. They became skilled at finding out where and how a product or service would sell. Anytime someone used their product, the Google search engine, Google was gaining more data points. Nowadays the process is so seamless that virtually all marketing performed online is targeted specifically at us: the individual. That Google search on how much the new Canon DSLR camera costs? Soon enough a targeted ad will surely show up on your social media pages.

In the beginnings of social media everyone thought it was only for younger people. Nowadays, there are more than 1.59 billion daily active users on Facebook (June 2019 average). More than 2.7 billion people use at least one of Facebook’s family of services (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger). In other words, almost half the planet is using their social media products.

While for most of us our data will be mined and sold for a customized shopping experiences, it is something that we as a culture seem to take in stride. 

Interested in seeing what kind of data that Google has collected on you? Check here:


Note: If you choose to download it, make sure your hard drive is big enough! 🙂