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User Data: Who Owns It?

Facebook knows more about you than your own mother. Seriously. As a matter of fact, even before the age of user data, catalogs from department stores were accurately predicting which consumers were pregnant before they could even report this sensitive information to their families. By law, users don’t have possession of their own data, and this is part of the dilemma. What happens when a corporation you don’t even trust knows just about everything about you? Is this good, bad, or somewhere in between?

If you were to ask me, the defense of user data for purchase from the highest bidder is an increasingly dangerous game, which has even started to affect our electoral politics in the United States. Foreign nations or just even the U.S. Government has to ask permission for this data from these corporations. They can purchase it, buy their own ad space like they are regular companies, and from there do what they will. If you’re like me, that’s cause for real concern.

On the other hand, the defense for companies owning their users’ privacy in lieu of digital marketing is a shallow argument for me. I say this for two reasons:

  1. The important thing is the trust from the consumer, and sketchy companies with loads of user data and resources to exploit them don’t aid in user trust for consumer longevity.
  2. Even before the digital age companies with vast resources had the ability to use consumer’s own psychology against them: it’s the very same set of tactics that created foundational advertising techniques.

So to conclude, even if you rightly understand that user data makes things easier for the consumer, it may still be a serious cause for other concerns in the long-run.

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