From changing buying habits to piloting elections, our data is so much valuable to someone you can never imagine. In this article, I’ll take you through why data is so valuable in the age of data science and machine learning.
Data is Valuable Because Data is Customer
Today, if you don’t pay for any service, you are a product. We are in an age where we are using very useful products like Facebook and Google that capture significant amounts of data.
Our so-called digital escape clicks, likes, dislikes, friends, purchases, comments, tweets are captured, stored, extracted and used to influence and possibly manipulate behaviour.
In some ways it’s harmless and maybe even useful, we get better ads, we find things faster and easier. But in other ways it’s problematic.
How Many People Care About Data Privacy?
At first glance, it seems Facebook users don’t seem overly concerned with privacy, who owns their data, or what happens to them. When it comes to social media, it seems clear that data privacy was not a major concern a few years ago.
But that changed with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Based on investigations after the scandal, it was found:
- 20% of the consumer did not have a currently active Facebook account due to privacy concerns as the main reason for not having a Facebook account.
- 9% of respondents had a Facebook account and deleted it at some point in the past few years. Again, many cited data privacy reasons as a motivator.
- 39% of consumers had already changed their Facebook privacy settings due to privacy concerns.
User perceptions continue to change. Consumer Research has shown that Facebook users have found that after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, almost 25% of Facebook account holders say they are extremely or very concerned about the amount of personal information Facebook collects and stores.
But when users were told about other Facebook activity, 63% of them said Facebook shouldn’t be allowed to collect data about them when they’re not on Facebook.
Perhaps these loopholes have started to open people’s eyes to data privacy gaps. But will users’ perceptions change if they know the true value of their data?
Why Data is Valuable and What is the Value of Our Data?
Recently, a group of bipartisan US senators will introduce legislation that will force Facebook, Google, Amazon and other major platforms to disclose the value of their users’ data.
One of the Senators’ Groups, Senator Mark Warner, states that these companies take huge amounts of data about us. If you’re an avid Facebook user, chances are Facebook knows more about you than the US government knows about you.
Warner goes on to say that people are unaware of it, how much data is being collected; and second, they don’t realize the value of that data.
That being said, there are a few opinions on the real value of our data. One concrete data point comes from Facebook, where they paid users aged 13-35 around $ 20 per month to allow unlimited access to their smartphone usage data, which probably sets a low of around 20. $ per month or about $ 240 per year.
A second data point is described by The Atlantic which says advertisers supported $ 300 billion in economic activity last year. That’s over $ 1,200 per Internet user.
The fundamental question is who owns the data and who has intellectual property rights over it? The global data economy is estimated at $ 3 trillion and consumers need to take advantage of their self-generated data as well.
Data is valuable in understanding, predicting and influencing individual behaviour and decisions, but it is precisely this power that makes it dangerous. As the world moves towards a universal online presence and open data systems, it is important to continue to discuss and work on the issues surrounding open data, rather than viewing and evaluating data through the only economic prism of a product.
Hope you liked this article on why data is so valuable and what really is the value of data. Please feel free to ask your valuable questions in the comments section below.