Privacy in the Digital Age: When the Product is Free … You are the Product

This has been known in most Web 2.0 (Wikipedia) circles since it’s inception. Products, Services, and Information with Internet portals like Facebook, SnapChat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and nearly all other social media channels modern communication forms; notable are Google’s slate of “Free” offerings; in essence “The Deal”: “We will provide you this awesome tool for free” and in exchange you must agree to certain requirements (your privacy), usually your data.

Web 2.0 refers to World Wide Web websites that emphasize user-generated content, usability (ease of use, even by non-experts), and interoperability (this means that a website can work well with other products, systems, and devices) for end users.


Easy Peazy, and You’re In

You get to use their service and they get your information. So, maybe not all the details of your last activity will be revealed, but maybe they might know you communicated about food in a certain neighborhood or a meal during a certain time of day (e.g. dinner time). More importantly, they could use your unique “certain” keywords (a place, brand name, etc.). This information is aggregated and applied to you, the individual, and to all of us, as we are determined to be like you enough to have marketers connect the dots and start to send us targeted advertising messaging.

There is nothing evil about the current Norms and Modern Business Practices amongst the many savvy Internet marketers. It is a fair exchange. I personally receive some great benefits from my Social Media portals and I know they’ve utilized my information to market to me. I can choose to ignore it, worry about it, or “Unsubscribe”. My desire is that I want to continue using these Free and Affordable Internet Tools because “Free” is a fair price for what I exchange with them.

Markets always find options and opportunities

The evil (the bad stuff) is easy find. Take FaceBook’s inadvertent lack of oversight of foreign influences relative to the 2016 United States National Elections. Not all influences were foreign and if they were, I don’t know if the outcome would have been any different. The key is to understand that some of the information may be more advertising (promotional) then say informative.

The evil isn’t all FaceBook’s challenge. It is collectively Our Challenge as well because we often fail to readily grasp what is common and obvious. I refer to this as “World-Literacy”; street smarts, not book-smarts. The ability to recognize a Con when a Con is presented. To challenge the mentally challenged even if they agree with your beliefs and how you think and what you do.

There is an interesting connection with a collection of books that come to mind; that may make some sense to revisit. The “Wisdom of the Crowds” (James Surowiecki). The author explains how a group of unsophisticated people collectively without purpose gravitate to the right answer even though the experts are at odds with each other. For example, ask 10 farmers who raise cattle to guess the weight of a cow and they will be collectively wrong. Ask 10 or 100 non-farmers and average their answers and you will be collectively correct. It isn’t that any one of them is correct it is that the average is correct. It is why long shots rarely win. The wisdom of the crowd understands the winners even if you don’t.

An author and book series that I value is the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov (written 1942–1993) where Asimov predicted the art and science of data mining and predictability (Behavioral Economics). He designed a way to help civilizations shorten the time to rebuild itself after a collapse by using math, data, and by understanding groups and their behavior.

In the Second Volume of the Asimov Trilogy, he introduces the unknown, albeit anticipated, individual who disrupts the process. He referred to this individual as the Mule. Meaning “different” and “unpredictable”. Ultimately the crowd’s wisdom prevails but not after some derailing adventures and hiccups. Time cures for the benefit of the crowd. The math just works that way.

At Morris+D’Angelo we advise you to Please Carefully Read your agreements with any Internet Portal, Social Media or Otherwise … PLEASE understand that every keystroke is potentially a goldmine of information for someone out there on the Internet.

Meanwhile, back to “World-Literacy” and where YOU are the product. Awareness is your best defense. At Morris+D’Angelo we advise you to Please Carefully Read your agreements with any Internet Portal, Social Media or Otherwise and use with caution and PLEASE understand that every keystroke is potentially a goldmine of information for someone out there on the Internet. This is all fine and good as long as you know it and share what you Know You Want to Share. The best-kept secrets are those that are never shared.

Ultimately you have the responsibility for avoiding Naive Actions of Uninformed Activity and giving away too much without an equitable fair exchange. Always keep your brain engaged and if the value is too great for you for Free or Little Cost (too good to be true) then it is time to figure out who is paying your way and what’s in it for them? What are they getting out of it?

The Choice is Yours:
Strategically allow what others know or give it all away without even knowing it.

Confused? Need More…
Contact us at Morris+D’Angelo for the latest Best Practices for sharing your data online and find out how we navigate safely around the Internet.


Daniel Morris
Daniel frequently provides Media Content via Workshops, Podcasts and Printed Articles on topics like Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency, Wealth Preservation and Planning, Global Banking and many other high-level financial topics that serve and demonstrate the Value of our Global Network that should be of interest to those who need Private High-Wealth Services.

If you would like Daniel to speak to you or your Professional Group and bring clarity about the new frontier of Cyber Currency, please contact us.

Morris+D’Angelo is the industry leader for many High-Wealth Customers and Organizations.

Daniel Morris, Managing Director, Chief Dragon Slayer707 SW Washington St., Suite 1100
Portland, Oregon, 97205

503.749.6300 – Portland Office
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Daniel Morris, Dan Morris, CPA, Portland Oregon, Dragon Slayer


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