Age of Awareness
Published in

Age of Awareness

One Company Changing Big Data

  • Facebook’s data on one single user is sufficient enough to fill 400,000 Word docs; for Google, it is seven times this number.
  • In 2012, the data brokering industry generated a staggering revenue of $150 billion, today, it is worth over $200 billion.
  • Pawtocol — an online pet company, deploys a privacy-first design principle in a blockchain and AI-driven environment to help bring back data within the power of users.

Since the advent of the Internet, tech has become an integral part of our daily lives. Innovations from tech companies like Facebook, Intel, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu, and Apple are used worldwide to save time and create a more frictionless lifestyle. Then there are social networks like WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram that we use to stay in contact with our friends and family.

These companies offer a lot of free products, resources, and assets, so it’s not obvious to the naked eye what their main source of revenue is, or how the business profits from offering “free” services like search, email, gaming, social media or instant messaging. However, this topic has been gaining considerable interest in online communities worldwide.

In an age where the world is turning to data as the new oil, American lawyer and law professor Eric Posner argues that data creation is labour. He points out that the share of income paid for labour in the biggest technology companies like Facebook and Google is only about 5–15% against 80% share, which is what Walmart pays for labour.

A very popular Silicon Valley adage says, if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold. So, following Posner’s argument that data is labor, businesses that make profits out of selling their data are basically getting labour for free.

Social Networks Relies Heavily On User Data To Stay Profitable

As the world continues to advance, privacy is becoming a major concern among online users. There is no debate that tech giants like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide the world with a seemingly free social service. However, users are slowly waking up to the true price of “free.”

Aside from creating social connections, these apps also do something else: They collect data. They record your online activities, interests, habits, desires, places you visit, lifestyle choices, etc., and have a varying degree of annoying infringements. It can be something as simple as WhatsApp sharing your name and phone number with Facebook to help advertisers sell to you, or as complex as an app that uses the battery level of your computer as a “fingerprint” to identify you online.

The actual data collected is even more overwhelming when you look at their numbers. Facebook’s data on one single user is large enough to fill 400,000 Word docs. For Google, it is seven times this number or the equivalent of about three million Word docs per person. These companies make a fortune through Big Data advertising, marketing, data management, and product development.

In 2018, Facebook was swept up in a massive data harvesting scandal. The company granted full access to users’ private data to an election consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica. This created a lot of privacy concerns that cost Facebook a large portion of their user base, especially in the United States.

In an increasingly creative way, companies and governments have found ways to involve themselves in the data streams of our lives, monitoring what we do, who we meet and where we go. Privacy is fast becoming an illusion.

The concerns are not just that these companies collect our data with little oversight or transparency. The bigger problem is that they benefit from selling this data instead of the actual end-user.

Data Brokers Are Also On The Loose

Think back to the times you have received unsolicited advertisements in your mailbox and wondered how the information matched your exact interests or desires at the time.

More often than not, we let ourselves believe these incidents are mere coincidence. But it’s more likely that you are at the mercy of data brokers.

Facebook and Google quickly spring to mind as the primary culprits when data-privacy scandals come up. However, data brokering is fast becoming a cash cow industry niche for dedicated companies leveraging unsuspecting users’ data to build an empire for themselves.

Data brokers are companies that collect information about consumers from a variety of public and non-public sources including courthouse records, website cookies, and loyalty card programs. Typically, brokers create profiles of individuals for marketing purposes and sell them to businesses who are in search of a target audience to market their advertisements and special offers/promotions.

Currently, there are more than 4,000 brokering companies worldwide. Acxiom is one of the biggest and has 23,000 servers gathering and processing consumer data of 500 million customers globally, with up to 1,500 data points per user. At one point, a single user email address was worth over $89 to brands.

Privacy died the day the Internet was born. One of the biggest scandals to date involves a data broker that sold the contact data of rape victims, alcoholics, and erectile dysfunction sufferers to advertisers. The list is said to be sold for $79 per 1,000 contacts.

In 2012, the data brokering industry generated a staggering revenue of $150 billion — this is bigger than the GDP of most developing countries. Today, data brokering is an enterprise worth $200 billion and sadly it shows a lot of prospects for future growth.

The Solution To Complete Data Privacy Lies Within Blockchain Technology And AI

Blockchain has been rising to the occasion and helping to solve the privacy-related issues associated with handling users’ data. One example is a petcare technology company called Pawtocol which is deploying blockchain technology in an AI-driven environment to help users retain control of their data. The Pawtocol platform allows pet owners to own their pet data.

Pawtocol is leading the pet industry with its privacy-first design principles that offer users full custody of all platform data and the rights to anonymously sell their data for direct compensation.

The Pawtocol platform is set to reach over 800 million pets globally in a fully decentralized environment with no central control of users’ data, unlike traditional online platforms. Thanks to the transparency and privacy created by the blockchain technology, it’s time for everyone to take back control over their digital lives.

That compensation comes in the form of their native token, Universal Pet Income or UPI. It can be used in the Pawtocol ecosystem for goods, such as crowd verified treats and toys, as well as services, such as dog walkers and vet visits, which can all be paid for within the app using the UPI you’ve earned. When you spend your UPI within the app for purchases like this, you create the opportunity to earn even more UPI as you generate additional data that can later be sold. And of course, you can always cash out your UPI for fiat to pay for non-pet related activities.

Pawtocol is running their IEO on Probit Exchange from March 23rd to March 30th. It will be $0.027 / UPI and you can click here to learn more about this offering.




Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


More from Medium

Calculating the Carbon Impact of Your Cloud Usage

What is your Digital Transformation strategy for 2022?

A must read piece : Randstad CEO Foreword to WorkMonitor 2022

Preparing Your System Migration from Day One