Privacy watchdog Dylan Curran recently exposed the data practices of users on Google and Facebook in a contributed article that ran in The Guardian titled: Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you.
Than in early May, he joined a community-driven decentralized search engine, Presearch.io, as an advisory board member to ensure the company works in a “morally and ethical manner.”
He believes that people no longer search the web, but rather the web searches for information about people and that the most trusted sources of information have become the very portals that follow a person’s movements and record their intent and actions.
Presearch, which doesn’t store user searches or any identify information, rewards users in cryptocurrency for searching and referring others as well as promoting and contributing to the platform. The plan is to create interactive ads where consumers receive tokens to participate with brands in advertising surveys.
The search engine supports about 26,000 people. It ranks websites based on a combination of human curation and scalable machine learning rather than algorithms.
By joining Presearch, Curran hopes to improve privacy and search. He believes the future for advertisers lies in services like Presearch. “I could have joined any company and probably for more money,” he said.
Search Insider recently caught up with him to discuss his views and the future of data for advertisers.
Search Insider: There’s no such thing as privacy. I’ve been saying that for years. Now people have begun to realize through a variety of incidents, such as the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, well, that there’s really no such thing as privacy. It’s extremely difficult to protect personal online information because agreeing to use a mobile app gives it away. What are your thoughts on the future of data and privacy?
Curran: If you want to use the internet you must compromise privacy. That’s what the internet’s all about. It connects people with people, people with businesses, and there’s no way to remain totally anonymous. People are surprised when a social network takes all the information and either gives it away or sells it for money. But that’s the purpose of the internet. That’s why all these services are free. The Internet exists purely to harvest your information. If you want to use the internet you need to compromise your information. You can use a VPN or Tor, but then you must compromise your information in other ways.
In the future, services will cater to privacy. Innovation will emerge to fill the hole. Facebook and Google's probably won’t work as services in the future because they are going too far with using consumer data. For example, if you give Google access to your camera it will track your expressions when searching.
Search Insider: Advertisers use those platforms to reach consumers. How will it affect online advertising?
Curran: Google and Facebook give advertisers a platform to work from and data to work with. You can advertise based on demographics and income. The biggest problem is that the model relies on people giving up their information. If consumers stop giving them information there’s no one to market to.
In the future there will be services where people voluntarily give information. It will require platforms like Presearch. In exchange for information, Presearch will give users tokens as rewards. Advertisers will pay a little more to advertise to those people, but it will cost much less than Facebook and Google, which need to corrupt their services to make their model work.
We can see it with Facebook where they removed the chronological timeline and 99% of the posts now are Sponsored or Promoted by a brand page. There’s a decrease of effectiveness because there’s too much going on. The dynamics are changing.
Search Insider: By the time this article posts, advertisers will have four days left until the EU enforces GDPR. How will this change the world of ad targeting?
Curran: Presearch doesn’t have control of any of the information because it works on a decentralized blockchain. The laws were made to screw with Google, Facebook, Twitter and other big technology companies. Google can no longer have 50 pages in their terms and condition. They must have clear consent. Google collects your location every time you turn on your phone and location turned on. Not many people realize this happens. For example, GDPR requires Google to tell EU residents every time they turn on their phone when the location signal is turned on they will collect the location data.