Why information about your social media activity, internet browsing and purchase history is now the most valuable data on the planet?
Think about the last time you browsed the Web. Remember those ads that seem to follow you from site-to-site after you had looked at an item on Amazon?
The images, links and posts you put on your social media networks is information that is being collected and potentially sold. And even when you are watching TV, your viewing habits could be tracked. The choices you make are precious data business now pay a great deal of money for.
Every time you click yes to installing a cookie on your computer, that’s more data about you being collected. Added to this is the publicly available information about you from CCTV images, licence plates, GPS tracking, in-store shopping activity and, of course, the megabytes of information on your social media, plus the IoT (Internet of Things) sensors which will soon litter our environment – there is masses of information being collected about you every minute of the day. All this adds up to a detailed picture about who you are, your preferences, likes and dislikes.
As a consumer, you are looking for unique personalised experiences. Businesses that know your purchase history can tailor your next visit to their website and show you items you might like to buy. This personal information about your purchasing history may seem innocuous enough, but it’s the tip of a data iceberg that is getting bigger and more personal as your digital footprint expands.
Your data is massively valuable. Hundreds of data brokers routinely collect what can be highly personal information about individuals to sell to anyone that needs to target everything from product and service purchases to winning elections.
More data, less privacy?
Targeting ads at the right people is, of course, at the heart of why businesses large and small, collect information about their existing and potential new customers.
As the quantities of data collected have expanded exponentially, and as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning matured, it is now possible to find patterns and value in the data about you. In some instances, there could be over five-thousand unique data points about an individual.
Recent data scandals such as Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have raised awareness of how personal information is being collected and then used to manipulate our spending and political affiliations.
Initiatives like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) include the ‘right to be forgotten’, but in reality, we all want low-cost or even free digital services. The ‘cost’ to us is allowing our information to be collected, manipulated and sold.
There are now over 3.5 billion users of social media – that’s nearly half of the world’s entire population. The data footprints every one of those users leaves has value. Today, data has become the most precious commodity businesses can possess.