Do you know who owns your data? Almost 50% of US adults have no idea about the companies that REALLY control the web…
Facebook. Google. YouTube. Instagram. WhatsApp – for many, these are the five core applications used for accessing and operating on the web. But did you know that Google and Facebook own all of them? 50% of US adults didn’t, and that’s kind of scary…
According to a study conducted by DuckDuckGo, almost 50% of US adults had no idea that Google owned YouTube, nor did they realise that Facebook owned WhatsApp. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a similar amount had no idea that Facebook now owned Instagram.
“Our outsized growth in 2018 was inextricably connected to the groundswell of privacy interest that characterised the year,” said DuckDuckGo.
It added: “Through research we conducted in 2018, it became very apparent that more people are searching for privacy-focused alternatives, and that there is a need for more education on how to take control of your privacy online, as major tech companies like Facebook and Google revealed huge breaches of consumer data.”
And the highlights of that research are pretty alarming:
- After Cambridge Analytica scandal, 64.7% of US adults grew more concerned about online privacy and secrecy.
- 44% of US adults DID NOT know that Google owned YouTube
- 50% of US adults had NO IDEA that Facebook owned WhatsApp
- 56% of US adults did not know Facebook owned Instagram
- 56% did not know Google owned Waze
Who Controls The Internet (And Most of Your Data)
Between them, Google and Facebook pretty much own the internet. Think about it: how often do you use Google and Facebook on a daily basis? What about Instagram and YouTube? Well, they’re both owned by Google and Facebook too.
In fact, I’d wager that some web users – probably millions – seldom deviate outside of Facebook and Google’s platforms ever. I mean, why would they if all they want to do is watch YouTube videos, post Instagram photos, and search for new stuff to buy on Google?
If you’re even slightly worried about what these tech companies are doing with your browsing data (and, trust me, you should be), you will almost certainly have looked into alternative web browsers like DuckDuckGo, which offer tracker-free browsing.
When it comes to social media networks like Facebook, well, you’re kind of out of look – data mining is the name of the game on Facebook and if you’re using it, Facebook is using you to make money. This is the #1 key factor of its business model – your data equals money, basically.
What Do Facebook & Google Do With Your Data?
When it comes to how Google uses your data, again, it’s ALL to do with adverts – Google, after all, is an ad company at its core. And it gets all of its data direct from you; either through search or through its free software (Gmail, Search, Maps – whatever).
But where things get EVEN more interesting is that Google trackers were found inside 75% of the top million websites on the planet, which basically means that your data is being accessed and siphoned off wherever you go on the web…
And if you only ever go to Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Facebook then you’re effectively taking part in the biggest, most secret, never-end data mining project ever created. And the worst part? There’s no escape – we all love and use these products all the time, they’re ingrained into our lifestyles.
Should you care? This is the big question, really. I’m of the opinion that, yes, you should care what these companies are doing and how they’re doing it – no one wants another Cambridge Analytica scandal, after all. But for the larger picture? It now almost seems like this is simply the price we pay for the technology we use…
I mean, could you imagine NOT having Google search? Or not being able to use Instagram or Facebook? What about YouTube, arguably one of the most useful web applications ever created! Imagine a world without these… It would suck! And, sadly, adverts are what make all these things possible.
So unless we’re all going to start paying for content, YouTube, and everything else on the web, adverts and data collection are here to stay. And the reason is simple: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Not when it comes to billion dollar tech companies. If you want to benefit and use their technology, you have to pay the price of admission (and that means giving them access to your data).
And be sure to check Why Is My Internet So Slow? Here Are 5 Ways To Fix It!
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.