The topic of big tech gathering consumer data is becoming more and more popular. It seems like you’re hearing about how big tech has access to your data everywhere you go, whether it’s because of increased news coverage, documentaries, or new legislation being enacted. But what exactly does that imply? I want to simplify what data collecting means, how it’s acquired, and how it’s used as the CEO and founder of a data intelligence company.
What kind of information do tech companies collect?
First and foremost, what do we mean when we say big tech owns your data? These companies track information such as your name, email, phone number, IP address (where you are in the globe), the device you’re using, the times you’re using it, what you’re doing on it, and more.
It’s crucial to note that not every brand collects this information. What each brand tracks and uses is up to them, but for starts, security.org researchers undertook an in-depth examination on a few key tech businesses to discover what they’re tracking and assigned a letter grade to each of them.
What methods do they use to gather your information?
Companies can get your data in a variety of methods, but here are three of the most common.
1. By requesting your personal information. Have you ever done the following:
- Have you been given your email address in exchange for a report?
- Have you ever been requested to participate in a survey after making a purchase from a company?
- How would you rate your service on a scale of one to ten?
- Are you nearing the end of a customer service contact and need to ask a few questions?
These are all methods used by businesses to persuade you to hand over your personal information. When they discuss it to you, they don’t call it that, but that’s exactly what they’re doing.
2. By keeping track of your activities. Almost every website you visit in a day collects information about you. They keep track of how much time you spend on the site, what you click, what you scroll past, what email address you use to log in, and where you log in from – everything!
3. By purchasing consumer information. A large number of brands sell data, and an equal number of brands buy it. It’s a technique to speed up your data collection by purchasing it from someone else who has already spent the time and resources collecting it for you.
What are they going to do with that information?
Isn’t that the most pressing question? What are these corporations doing with your data now that they have it? Companies use your data primarily to create a customer profile of you so they can better understand who you are and what you’re interested in. Companies aim to develop this customer profile as detailed as possible for one reason: to make their interactions with you as relevant and tailored as possible.
This customization now takes many other forms, such as the ones listed below.
- Social media applications want to make sure you’re getting material you’ll truly want to watch. Have you ever wondered why TikTok is so popular? It’s because they put a high priority on developing an algorithm that recommends new material based on what you’ve already seen and interacted with.
- To show you advertising that are relevant to you. If you’re in your twenties and keep seeing ads to schedule a showing at a retirement home, you’re probably not going to do it. You’re not the right candidate for that job. Advertisers will know to omit you from their ads if they know you’re younger and won’t be shopping for retirement homes.
- To make your experience more unique. Have you ever gotten an email from a company wishing you a happy birthday? They don’t merely send that email to everyone in the hopes that someone’s birthday is coming up. They send it to you because your birthday is listed in your customer profile. It’s likely that they also wished you a happy birthday in that email, using your name. This is due to the fact that they have your name on file as well. Because they have your data, they are able to send you this specifically designed email.
What is the future of consumer data collection?
Everything I described above does not appear to be particularly frightening. Brands rarely use our data for malicious purposes; instead, they use it to better serve you. But it doesn’t imply they have the right to your information. You own your data, therefore you should have a say in how and when it’s used, and you should be fairly compensated for it.
Many firms aren’t transparent enough with the data they collect, but this is changing as a result of consumer pressure and government laws. In a recent piece, I looked at the future of data gathering and how it would be shaped by the preferences of each individual customer. Consumers that wish to share their data and have highly tailored experiences will be able to do so. If providing that much data makes you feel uneasy, you’ll also have the option of sharing none of it.