- Google and Facebook’s impact on our privacy cannot be understated.
- 76 percent of websites now contain hidden Google trackers, and 24 percent have hidden Facebook trackers, according to one study.
To make any real progress in advancing data privacy this year, we have to start doing something about Google and Facebook. Not doing so would be like trying to lose weight without changing your diet. Simply ineffective.
The impact these two companies have on our privacy cannot be understated. You may know that hidden trackers lurk on most websites you visit, soaking up your personal information.
What you may not realize, though, is 76 percent of websites now contain hidden Google trackers, and 24 percent have hidden Facebook trackers, according to the Princeton Web Transparency & Accountability Project. The next highest is Twitter with 12 percent. It is likely that Google or Facebook are watching you on many sites you visit, in addition to tracking you when using their products.
This advertising system is designed to enable hyper-targeting, which has many unintended consequences, such as the ability for bad actors to use the system to influence the most susceptible or to exclude groups in a way that facilitates discrimination.
“These two companies have amassed huge data profiles on each person, which can include your interests, purchases, search, browsing and location history, and much more.”
Because of their entrenched positions in a wide array of Internet services, each collecting personal information that together combine into these massive digital profiles, Google and Facebook can offer hyper-targeting much better than the competition.
As a result, they now make up 63 percent of all digital advertising, and accounted for 74 percent of this market’s growth in 2017, according to eMarketer. Together they form a tight digital advertising duopoly, showing no signs of abating.
Google and Facebook also use your data as input for increasingly sophisticated AI algorithms that put you in a filter bubble — an alternate digital universe that controls what you see in their products, based on what their algorithms think you are most likely to click on.
These echo chambers distort people’s reality, creating a myriad of unintended consequences such as increasing societal polarization. On their unending march to profit from more and more personal information, Google and Facebook have shown little regard for all the negative consequences of their runaway algorithms. . .