You Are The Most Valuable Product On The Internet

Much has been made of Google’s unified privacy policy that went into effect last week. In my Twitter feed, I saw the usual suspects; threats of dumping all Google products, enraged people shouting about how Google is out to take over the world, you know, a whole lot of this. Perhaps these people are unaware of how commerce on the Internet works. This is always a good reminder for us as PR pros, and for our clients. The number of companies that collect your data for their own marketing purposes or for their partners is astronomical. However, let’s rundown a few of the major names to put this in perspective:If you cannot discern a product a company is selling, the product they are selling is you

This isn’t an argument that says companies collecting personal information is a good thing, but it IS an argument for taking responsibility. You’re using Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Path, and tons of other apps FOR FREE. Ever paid a dime to post your status to Facebook or Twitter? Nope. Yet their IPO is expected to be worth millions, if not billions, of dollars. It ain’t because that photo of your kid is extra cute.

We, the Internet community, often forget that. We are a valuable commodity. We all have wants, needs, desires, hopes, and there are companies out there dying to learn more about us to sell those to us. The price of using these services is not monetary; it’s our information. Anyone who thinks it is Google’s responsibility to simply sit on the goldmine of information it has on its users doesn’t understand the digital business model.

It is our responsibility as consumers to safeguard our data; and each of these companies has provided ways to make your information as private as possible. In the 21st century, if you wonder how a company can make money without actually selling anything, remember this:

If you cannot discern a product a company is selling, the product they are selling is you.

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  • Anonymous

    Very true, Matt. My advice: be sure you read TOS before you click “agree” … a tiny step, but if privacy is a big deal, that’s an important step.

    Also … companies have been doing this forever … subscribe to an email newsletter, opt in to offers from other companies (that means your data is being shared) … and so on. I suppose as a marketer, I’m more comfortable with it because it’s not necessarily new, but the fact remains the onus is on individuals to ask questions, know what data is being shared and manage it, to the extent it’s possible, if they are concerned about their privacy.

    Great post!

    • So true. I’ve long said that your own privacy is your own responsibility; no one else’s. I find it laughable when people get upset over things like this.

  • Well stated, Matt. I love the self-righteous “outrage” that so often bubbles up when new or revised policies are announced. “Awareness” is key in any successful endeavor, and it is up to us as consumers/users to make ourselves both aware AND informed. Thanks for the reminder!

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