Facebook and Google offer free services in exchange for user data, but that data can be misused. Could blockchain technology help users regain control of their information?
The role of centralized internet giants as “digital identity brokers” is under fire.
While users worry about privacy, tech giants (like Facebook and Google) primarily focus on generating profits and satisfying shareholders.
These companies make money by collecting, selling, and analyzing user data, primarily on behalf of advertisers. In 2017, Facebook brought in about $40B in advertising revenue — a figure that represents almost 20% of the global online ad market, and is expected to grow in coming years.
Blockchain and Identity: Building a New Internet
As these companies collect data, there’s an ever-present risk of misuse of personal information — as most recently highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal.
“Federated identity,” in which a single credential is used to sign in across the web, is starting to gain traction. Facebook, Google, and Twitter already offer “social sign-in,” which makes it easier for users to sign in with pre-existing digital credentials.
While this can offer users a more seamless experience, this process also puts more power in the hands of these internet giants acting as identity brokers, and gives them even more data.