What you think is your own data, may not belong to you
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Editor’s note: According to Amazon’s operation, consumers can exchange their browser data for $10 worth of points, which is an investment for Amazon, but the reason is definitely more than just The “data privacy protection” is as simple as that. To a certain extent, this is Amazon’s preparation for achieving its goal of segmenting users in order to promote a more indirect and effective revenue-generating strategy. The author of this article SIDNEY FUSSELL, original title What Amazon Thinks You’re Worth.
Image source: MARK LENNIHAN / AP
Imagine, on a bright afternoon, you are drinking coffee in a coffee shop, and then the owner of the store is holding a $10 bill in his hand and slowly coming towards you, hoping that you can answer some questions. Content includes but is not limited to: How did you hear about this store? How did you come? Is it walking or sitting on Uber? Which product is more attractive? Which product do you think does not meet your expectations? These questions are simple in themselves, so the answer is not that difficult. You took 10 dollars without any effort.
Then, you will find yourself experiencing this experience while browsing the web: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will also come to you as you browse the web, also giving you $10. And then through your search history you can learn more about how you shop. In this case, do you have different reactions??
Amazon offers users a choice: if a user downloads an Amazon Assistant app to their browser, they can earn $10.
The Amazon Assistant combines browser extensions, shopping assistants, and referral tools. When you hover over an item while shopping on another website, it compares the item you are looking at with a similar item on Amazon. In this way, if Amazon’s products are cheaper, users are likely to choose the latter. But the app also allows Amazon to access the user’s browser data, including the URL of the page the user visited, the search term, the search results, and the metadata for those pages. Amazon also offered this service last year, but last year only offered $5 in points.
In another statement that was later provided, Amazon clarified that Amazon Assistant does not collect personally identifiable information about users. The statement states: “The product or price data automatically collected by Amazon Assistant is not linked to any customer ID. We do not use the information collected by Amazon Assistant in the advertising business.”
When people talk about “buy” and “sell” data, they are usually talking about any complex algorithmic process that technology companies profit from user behavior. But this is actually an inaccurate metaphor, and companies are often annoyed about it. In a word, Amazon’s privacy statement claims that the company “does not sell” user data activities, and Facebook’s head Mark Zuckerberg often said the same thing, so that this has become a classic joke in the industry.
The two companies are technically blameless. They really don’t sell user information to third parties—they just use that information to sell targeted ads and get a lot of revenue. Data and money exchanges are not straightforward, and the participants involved are far more than just users and companies. Therefore, these technology giants do not need to buy or sell user data to profit from it.
In addition, this data is never yours, nor is it entirely yours. Google (or should or Yahoo) knows that all leads to any specific purchaseSearch term. Amazon is not really “buying” the data you “own”, but paying for access to data tracks that other companies are already using.
Know that data exchange is not a typical market behavior and cannot be understood in this way. People don’t “own” their own data as they think. Specifically, Facebook and Amazon did not “buy” or “sell” it. They do collect as much information as possible, but only as an indirect but effective revenue-generating strategy.
For Amazon, providing points to users is not a purchase, but an investment. These companies are now giving you a small amount of money because it will make more money from you in the future. Amazon will use your purchase data to calibrate its positioning, split its vast user base into more granular categories, and then “recommended” for “users” more clearly. This is what Amazon really “buy”: raw materials that provide extra power to its target market. In the long run, this is likely to pay off: Imagine that as soon as you log in to Amazon, it will immediately give you advice on products that are accurate, reasonably priced, and your favorite style. Then look back and see that Amazon is preparing for the massive collection of this extra data.
This type of transaction has a strong asymmetry. More accurate advertising does not mean enhancing privacy protection, anonymous shopping, or being constrained by predictive recommendation algorithms. In fact, investing in one of these options means losing other options. Privacy can’t be bought, but it can be sold.