What do Facebook, Google, Twitter, Uber, and Tinder have in common?
They all sell your data, either directly or indirectly through targeted advertising.
Facebook – worth over $400bn – has made an absolute fortune. “But how?” you might ask, “It doesn’t cost anything to use Facebook.”
It’s free because the service isn’t the product. You are.
Your data is making others rich
More and more companies now view data – including your own – as a valuable asset. They collect it, analyse it, and monetise it in ways that might seem quite mind-boggling and shocking to most internet users.
Unless you take steps to protect your digital privacy, big tech and data analytics firms will learn almost everything about you: what you buy, what you eat, where you shop – even what you believe in.
They then use this information to create profiles which enable them to target you for advertising, or for influencing you in other, perhaps even sinister, ways. Analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, for example, collected Facebook data to influence Trump’s presidential bid – a task they were handsomely rewarded for, no doubt.
Even your web browser knows a lot about you. It reveals your location, your hardware, the operating system, local time, your IP address, what social media sites you’re logged into, and your device orientation (if your device has a gyroscope). It will also reveal exactly what you do on the internet, too – such as where you move your mouse or if you’re about to leave the page.
How to regain control of your data
To protect your data, you’ve got to establish where the leaks are coming from. Chrome collects data about you, even in incognito mode, and so does Opera, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.
But the good news is you can take back control. Indeed, you can even profit from it yourself. It doesn’t take much time, and it won’t cost you any money. All you need to do is change your browser.
Enter Brave – a new browser from the Co-Founder of Mozilla, Brendan Eich.
Brave is designed to give you total control over what you share with the Internet.
By default, it blocks all ads, trackers, third-party cookies, as well as security risks such as malware, spyware, fingerprinting, and malicious scripts.
Brave also partnered with privacy heavyweight Tor (The Onion Router) to create “Privacy Windows with Tor”. These ultra-private browsing windows are accessible by clicking the three horizontal bars to the right of the Brave URL (address) bar and selecting “New Private Window with Tor”.
Tor works by relaying your browsing traffic through an international network of computers, making it almost impossible to track what you’re doing, who you are, and where you’re located. If you’re looking for the highest level of privacy protection, Private Windows with Tor is it.
You can check your browser’s privacy and security levels now using Panopticlick (a research project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation). The results may surprise you, which is why Brave is so important.
How to profit from your own data
In an ideal world, you could sell your data online to the highest bidder (if you wanted to). After all, data is what drives advertising and advertising is what pays for the writers, videographers, and content providers you love.
But what if there was a better way?
Thanks to Brave, there is. As mentioned above, Brave blocks ads by default, but you can still reward the sites you visit through the Brave Rewards program.
Brave Rewards lets you block ads and then tip your favourite websites using the browser’s native cryptocurrency called the BAT (Basic Attention Token). At the moment, you have to top up BAT with your own funds, either by converting cryptocurrency in-browser or exchanging fiat for BAT through an exchange like Uphold.
But Brave is working on a new approach to advertising that pays you in BAT for watching ads. The browser anonymously tracks how much attention you pay to each site you visit. Then, using that information, Brave shows you ads that match the type of content you’re most interested in.
Your attention alone determines what ads you see, not your data. So you’ll still see the most relevant ads without handing over all your personal details.
And the best part? You get paid BAT to view these ads. You’re not obliged to buy anything, but you earn the BAT just the same. You can then spend that BAT on premium content, additional services, or to support new or emerging sites that you love.
To unlock the value in your data, start using Brave today.