The Cambridge Analytica / Facebook exposé points to a time when consumers own their own data

 In disruption

With Facebook and Cambridge Analytica firmly back in the news this week, it is worth revisiting the notion that we’re not that far away from a time where users own the data that networks use, not the other way around.

I am sure that many have read with interest that the Guardian investigation into the practices of Cambridge Analytics, helped by Whistleblower Christopher Wylie has started to bear fruit.

There was smoke around the use of Facebook data by CA even in late 2016. The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr has doggedly kept digging and last week she struck gold.

What is now emerging is that a number of actors used data generated via Facebook to provide more accurate targeting for US election advertisements as well as for the Brexit referendum in the UK.

On paper, this is academically a brilliant use of the data. Harvesting the preferences of millions of people and developing micro-segments for ad targeting has been the holy grail for advertisers for years now. We all know that this use case is 1000% wrong though.

I have been saying for a while now that consumers are poised to take back control of their data. I believe within 5 years what happened with Facebook and CA would not happen again because my data would be in my personal cloud, and Facebook and others would have to broker a digital deal (via AI-powered digital agents) to secure access to my data, for a fee (or prohibit them completely from using it).

Perhaps incidents like the one finally uncovered by the Guardian and others will make consumers understand that they have an opportunity to own their own data, and sell or loan it to the highest bidder on their own terms.

Remember: if the product is free, the product is me.

Watch a vignette below of a talk I presented recently in Leicester where I outlined how consumers would be controlling their data in a post-GDPR world.

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Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.