What if, each time big tech companies used our data, from shares to likes and browsing, we got a piece of the pie?
Data scientist Andreas Wiegend calculated that this pie would end up small and hard to come by, worth $3.50, the price of a cappuccino.
He came up with the sum by dividing up Facebook’s profits per user and it is partly the discrepancy between those two that drove him to write a call to arms, “Data for the People,” a book about the power of data and how easily people give it away. He writes if people can’t be recompensed financially, they should at least be able to get a seat at the table, and decide how their data is used.
Formerly head of research at Amazon, he turned evangelist, preaching about data and how people need to claim back the power they give away so easily. People create data each moment they are online. That data has made Facebook one of the most valuable companies in the world, worth more than the four most valuable German firms – SAP, Siemens, Bayer and Allianz. Facebook and its peers feed our data into its algorithms, increase its knowledge daily and further strengthen its market position.
Mr. Wiegend’s concerns address the nature of the relationship between all the data we submit and what we receive in return. Internet users tend to accept companies’ default settings in exchange for easy, convenient access to entertainment and information that helps them make decisions. Sometimes, that exchange is worth it. But people have no way of knowing when and whether relinquishing the data is worth it.