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Smile, you are the product and you've been raped...

Have you ever wonder why Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Weibo, QQ, and so on are delivering free services to you? How do they make money? How can such companies are so beneficial?

Most of my articles are talking about hackers, rogue nations, bad guys and ransoming... Today I wanted to explain how huge company can legally "hack" you.

How do they earn money?

All these companies make almost all of their income through advertisement and that's how they can provide you with free services. However, as you are going to discover, free services can come to a very expensive price!

Let's be clear, for such companies you are not the customers but the products. Data broker, marketing companies and ad companies are their true customers.

Guess what they sell to them? All your data!

Name, email, phone, birthday, localization, call list, payment list, religion, sexual orientation, background noise during call, favorite music, friends list, marital situation, kids age, and so on...

everything they have on you (and they have a LOT), they sell to their true customers!

Have you ever read their ToS?

Did you know that Facebook Term of Services (AKA ToS)(9,300 words) is twice longer than the U.S. constitution?! Of course nobody read those lines. PayPal's privacy policies are almost 20% longer than Shakespeare's HAMLET tragedy. (36,275 words)

According a study done by Carnegie Mellon University an average American user will encounters around 1,462 ToS to face each year with an average of 2,518 words. It would take around 76 full working days (8 hours per day) to read them all...

What is outrageous in these ToS, and that's why I'm talking about rapist, is because they basically ask command you to handover all your IP and personal information to them.

For example, if you write anything using Google docs, do you know that Google Inc. can use these as their own property? If you described how to revolutionize the world, Google is authorized to exploit your idea! Why? Only because you accepted such terms described in their ToS... I told you, free can be very expensive!

No more private life

One of the reasons they can do like this is because in ALL COUNTRIES over the world, internet is described as a public place. Not a private one. Which means that everything you are sharing is public. TOUGH REALITY! Of course they don't intend to let you know that they sell, share and commercialize you. If you clearly knew that you wouldn't produce as much as they are expecting.

We all are cow, our owner give us "free" food but we don't know, at that moment, they ask for our milk in counter-part. Or worse...

Lots of CEO said that nowadays private life doesn't exist anymore and total transparency is the new standard.

  • Google CEO "If you have something that you don't want anybody to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place"

  • Facebook CEO "Privacy is no longer the social norm"

  • Facebook COO "Expressing authentic identity will become even more pervasive in the coming years..."

Well, I totally don't agree and probably you too.

For example, such companies can track your real time localization, know if you cheat on your wife, if you are pregnant, if you're looking for a new job, if you have mental or physical problems, etc... Data information is gold.

If I have Coitus with my wife should everybody in the world know that? Then I should consider doing that on the street...

How do they know you so deeply?

Very easily actually! To answer this they need to know three things. Who are you? What are you looking for? Where are you? If Facebook is the winner for "Who are you?" It's because you tell them everything. Google already know "What are you looking for?". Then they're is plenty of companies that knows Where you were, are or will be such as We Chat.

When this is established, here comes the data broker.

They will purchase your information to these companies and aggregate them. After that, using powerful algorithm they will be capable to know everything about what you did, what you are doing and what you will most likely do.

Does it look like as if you've been hacked? I think so...

Then what can we do?

First of all, destroying all your social account isn't enough. For example, 7Eleven now have facial recognition system at their PoS that can identified who you are with your payment card and what you purchased.

Secondly, even you do not agree, you already accepted their ToS which allow them to keep the data even after you close your accounts.

The only way to protect yourself is through enforcement of customers regulations and confidential and privacy policies. You can only do that by raising your voice into appropriate institutions and associations.

One more thing, DO NOT share PRIVATE information if it is not really required. Do you really need to share everything on Facebook? Can you not call until writing down everything on Twitter or We chat? Are you forced to store data outside your own computer? Take care of your privacy, do not entrust them.

Every time before realeasing something on internet you should ask yourself "Am I ready to see this information released downstairs in the street?"

My conclusion:

That's one of the reason I recently join the IAPP (International Association for Privacy Professional) which aim to protect your data. I was nominated Chairman of Shanghai Chapter and I will spread good practices and standard to help, at my own level, to protect our privacy. Professional as well as personal.

If you want to know more please purchase the very well-made book Future crimes by Marc GOODMAN, A must have which helped me a lot to write this article.

Original post: Smile, you are the product and you've been raped...

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