It’s not free

At the weekend my eldest son asked if I would link my Amazon Prime account to one of his gaming accounts so he could get a free ‘skin’.

I then had to have the chat about ‘it’s not free’, explaining that to unlock this skin I would have to allow the gaming platform (and their marketers, developers, etc) access to aspects of our Prime account, like order history, searches, viewing habits, demographics, etc, etc.

He’s (slowly) learning that in the modern world, anything that’s free is actually going to cost him something at some point. Even if it’s not apparent or easy to spot now, the data he wants to hand over to get a free skin is worth something to the gamers.

He just doesn’t know what that value is yet. Nor do the rest of us, not really.

“The value reflects the extraordinarily varied and detailed data that companies collect. Google collects not only the personal information you reveal when you use its search engine, but also the data that comes from whatever you do when you visit or use any of its dozens of properties… Similarly, Facebook gathers all the data crumbs you leave whenever you visit the site itself or use its Messenger service, plus whatever you do on subsidiaries like Instagram and on apps accessed by logging in through Facebook.” Robert Shapiro

Every click we make, every website or app we use, our activity is tracked and stored away. Whether it’s for immediate marketing uses, targeted interactions, to inform an algorithm, or whatever, the web is not free. We are the subjects and data, we are the value on the internet. And we are willingly (?) giving this to anyone who asks (and many who don’t). I can’t count the number of times over the weekend I went through the cookie option list to ‘decline’, again, the massive list of supposedly ‘legitimate’ cookie requests. Arghhhh!!

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash