It's pretty easy to observe how important data is today, especially in a world where a big part of our lives is spent living online. But have you ever wondered how much data you generate daily just by being active online? And do you know what happens to all of it?
Data runs the world.
We live in a world based on data. Our brains work processing data to make all our everyday decisions. Whether the choice is between turning off the alarm or leaving it to switch off by itself, having cereal or porridge for breakfast, or choosing among several assurance companies, we make all decisions according to data. And by data, I mean everything around and inside you, including feelings and emotions. The equation is always the same: gathering data + processing data = decision. The big worlds of politics, the economy, and technology run precisely the same.
Speaking of the big world - have you ever heard about Big Tech?
What is Big Tech?
Big Tech, also known as a GAFA or GAFAM, is a term used to describe the most powerful and successful technology companies: Google, Apple, Facebook (which recently became Meta), Amazon, and, sometimes, Microsoft. As you probably know, these giants have changed the rules not only in the tech field but also in our society. They've changed the way we communicate with each other, learn information, make decisions, and shop. Big Tech has changed our lives in so many ways that it's hard to list all of the things it has impacted. How did this happen?
It's easy. GAFA made the internet evolve from being the medium used to learn pieces of information into a place where you can create and publish your own content. What’s more, GAFA has also made the internet a self-propelled business. A business based on users' data. So technically, Big Tech gave you excellent tools for creating, working, traveling, and entertaining for free, but on the flip side:
If you're not paying for the product, you are the product.
In fact, using a free mailbox, free communicators, free virtual discs, publishing your own content for free, or having easy and convenient shopping without leaving your couch is not even close to being free. The currency is your data.
Big Tech is interested in every aspect of your life. And even though a single trace you leave online may seem irrelevant, when you put it together with other data, it gives an accurate and brutally honest picture of you. But don't panic. We don't want to scare you, we just want to educate you. So, let's take a look at:
What kind of data is collected by Big Tech and why?
Each time you use an app, you usually give them some data on your own. For instance, when you create an account on a social media platform, you enter your name, email, age, and other data you want to share or are asked to share. This type of data is called intentional data. But, when you publish content like photos or videos, you probably agree to let the platform use your speaker, headphones, camera, location, and much more. This way, you produce an incredible amount of metadata, which is known as unintentional data. The other, and maybe even better examples, of meta data are your contacts, phone logs, internet session history and time, GPS history, etc.
We can put all the data and metadata into groups, as Apple did recently:
- 'tracking' data
'linked to you' data
'non-linked to you' data
And again, while this data doesn't mean anything separately, when aggregated, it answers every who, when, where, and why about you. And this is precious knowledge. Why? Because thanks to this deep insight into your life that Big Tech has, the advertiser who buys your data can prepare more than perfectly-fitted ads for you. And if these ads are so unbelievably well-profiled, they become that much more effective. So, when Big Tech gives you some new tool or feature, you can be sure they've just found another way to collect and sell your data. Of course, if you need to be a hundred percent sure, you can also read the terms of service, but I assume you may have no time and patience for that.
However, is it so bad that Big Tech collects all this data?
No. As in life, there are pros and cons. First, the opportunity we get when technology advances exponentially is fantastic. There were no times like today for showing an audience your talents, learning new things, and meeting people worldwide. And, to be honest, there is nothing wrong with ads. Sometimes it's even better when the ad matches your needs. But what is unacceptable is that very often people are completely unaware that they gave their data. It shouldn't look like this. You have every right to decide about something that belongs to you. It's okay to agree to use your personal data for some benefits. But, it's not okay to agree to something you don't know about.
Unfortunately, there is something more disturbing than gathering data for advertising reasons. It turns out that Big Tech is using all this sensitive information about you to create your opinions and influence your behavior and decisions. You've probably heard about the Cambridge Analytica scandal or the NSA’s mass surveillance program. These types of situations show how huge of a challenge and severe of a problem we have to solve when it comes to the control of the use of our data by Big Tech. That's why we should be aware and well tech-informed, so we won’t fall into the trap of deceptive convenience. We should educate ourselves. So as the Altroo Team, we want to help you with this education. Because we believe there is still a chance to change the way the internet works today. Join us!