Stop hatin’ on Google and Facebook.

When people talk about personal data privacy, there are two names we all love to be hatin’ on that always pop up: Google and Facebook. At TwoSense we are all about personal data empowerment and giving you control over your own data, so you’d think we’d hate them too. But we don’t, in fact we use them and like them to some extent. It’s companies like Zeotap and their cell carrier clients that we should really be hot and bothered about. Here’s why.

TL;DR Google and Facebook give you a fantastic utility for your data and don’t sell it. Data brokers give you nothing and make a killing.  Worse still are companies that you pay for a service which sell off your data anyway.

The internet ecosystem is full of the good, the bad and the really, really ugly companies when it comes to personal data and privacy.  Some of “the good” candidates we’ve talked about are people like Personal, who give you utility from your own data while working really hard to protect your privacy.  We’ve done our own fair share of Google and Facebook bashing, but in the end we posted those rants on Google and Facebook.  The truth is, they give us a service that we love, and we pay for it by having our attention monetized through targeted ads.  That’s what our data is being used for primarily. It’s not being sold or leased (we hope). In fact, our data is their secret sauce that they guard preciously. That gets them a score somewhere between good and bad.  But put into the context of what else is happening out there, their rating is far closer to good than bad.

Good Guy Google

The bad are the data brokers and warehousers who collect everything they can without giving you any utility whatsoever.  It’s brokers like Acxiom, Epsilon and Experian to name a few that really grind our gears.  This is a $200Bn industry that churns away in the background, tracking everyone and everything and selling that info off for whatever they can get for it.  They offer no service to you directly and you really have no benefit from their existence at all.  They are “the bad” in the personal data ecosystem, but they aren’t “the ugly.”


The really, really ugly are the businesses where you pay for a service and get monetized anyway. “The ugly” just hit the news as a new startup Zeotap announced that it raised $4.6M to help cell carriers monetize all the data they have about from their users and generate “much needed” revenue. Cell carries offer consumer-facing cell service like AT&T that you pay to get your iPhone online, and we pay enough to generate a projected $1.5Bn for the top 4 US carriers in 2015 alone, so “much needed” is apparently meant relatively. And Zeotap is not the only one: Verizon failed spectacularly to launch their own version with a broken opt-out.

“That’s like buying a house and then having the previous owner
continue to AirBnB out a bedroom.”

Both companies claim to protect the privacy of the end-user, but a) data is intrinsically identifying, and b) why should any business a be further monetizing me for a service I pay for? That’s like buying a house and then having the previous owner continue to AirBnB out a bedroom. It’s your house, why shouldn’t you get the payment for that service?  So why would it be OK when it comes to your data data?  The infrastructure to enable you to offer those services yourself don’t yet exist, but that’s only an engineering problem.  Even if it did exist though, the value the cell carriers have comes from having data on millions of users, so a lot of people would need to opt in with you to make it happen.  

TwoSense wants to bring you, the end user, and others like you together to make you the money that third parties are earning with your data. Join us and help us to empower you.

-dg @D4wud