Commentary

Broken Ad Economy

According to the recently released Mozilla’s first annual Internet Health Report, the consolidation of big tech’s power, the collapse of privacy protections, and the unabated spread of fake news are the three biggest challenges facing the health of the internet. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has put an intense spotlight on all three issues. The Cambridge report spurred calls for rethinking, reforming, and regulating many fundamental aspects of the internet.

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Mozilla, the nonprofit creator of the Firefox browser and other open-source tools, unveiled a prototype of the Internet Health Report in 2017 with the goal of sparking a social movement that engages policymakers, business, and the public in protecting the internet as a global resource that is open, secure, humane, and welcoming to all.

Created in collaboration with a roster of Mozilla Fellows and advocates from around the world, the full-length 2018 report compiles data, research, and stories that show

  • How the internet is evolving across five issues critical to the health of the internet: Privacy and security 
  • Decentralization
  • Openness 
  • Digital inclusion
  • Web literacy

Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation. “At the same time, the report uncovers grassroots innovations, new models, and trends heading in the right direction that provide a roadmap for reforming and rebuilding an internet that is good for the billions of people who depend on it.”

Despite the major challenges highlighted in the 2018 report, says the report, it also points to improvements in areas including access, affordability, and encryption. And it urges closer scrutiny to conflicts like the growing tension between protecting free speech and addressing online harassment and emerging technologies with potential to transform the internet, like open source hardware and blockchain. 

“The report ultimately aims to show that making the internet healthier is not just a technical or engineering challenge, but a human one,” adds Surman. “At this critical moment in the history of the internet, we have an opportunity to aspire to and build a free, open, secure, and welcoming internet that is embedded with humane values.” Still, the 2018 report says priority should be placed on addressing these three critical issues:

  • Consolidation of big tech power: A handful of big tech companies, including Facebook, Google, and Amazon, have become intertwined not only with people’s daily lives, but with the global economy, civic discourse, and democracy itself. Through monopolistic business practices that are specific to the digital age, these companies are undermining privacy, openness and competition on the internet. To address decentralization, the report explores how governments, consumers, and technologists should push for fair competition, open innovation, interoperability and stronger standards. 
  • Fake news and its root cause - the broken online advertising economy: “Fake news” has reached epidemic proportions worldwide and this is in large part due to the underlying online advertising economy, which rewards abuse, fraud, and misinformation. To stop fake news, we will need to look at radical changes in internet business models and regulation. 
  • Privacy and securing the Internet of Things:  While consumer privacy is vulnerable in every facet of the internet, the report highlights that there are expected to be 30 billion connected devices coming online by 2020. Ensuring that those devices are not enslaved and collectively weilded as a weapon must become a top priority. Poor software, hardware, and governance practices must be corrected to secure the Internet of Things.

Mozilla is a nonprofit that believes the internet must always remain a global public resource, open and accessible to all. The direct work of the Mozilla Foundation focuses on fueling the movement for an open internet by connecting open Internet leaders with each other, and by mobilizing grassroots activists around the world.

 

 

2 comments about "Broken Ad Economy".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 18, 2018 at 7:38 a.m.

    If this is about the problems facing the Internet regarding advertising, it appears that they failed to identify or note some other little issues such as user frustration over the disruptive ways that ads are served---which leads to growing use of ad blockers---to say nothing of lack of ad viewability, fraud, extremely high buying and distribution costs for ads, publishers not getting enough of the ad pie to support improvements in content, lack of adequate audience data across sites, etc. etc.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 18, 2018 at 11:06 a.m.

    The people involved from the get go are very smart people. Unless they are pre programmed robots, the ignorance of a devil's advocate or even a surmise of detrimental use before anything is launched is incredible. These premature launches only says the greed and care-less-ness, as in not caring one iota if there is harm in what they do to living beings, is more important to them than anything. They have been acting with no consequences of how much destruction they have caused. Big changes are needed. Those who created the monster should be doomed to destroy it.

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