Optimization of advertising space
At the beginning of the Internet, the profitability of advertising was poor because it was not very targeted. We will remember the 2000s, when a web page contained 90% flashing advertising banners (or “pop-up” popup windows) and 10% “useful content”. It was damaging for the service publisher, and unpleasant for the user.
It became clear that advertising should be better targeted to make it less invasive. But Internet allows to individualize the content with an unparalleled finesse compared to traditional media. On the Internet each user is unique, everyone can be exposed to the most “adapted” content for him. But for that, one needs to know it, therefore to collect personal data on each one. “Type 3” services were born from this observation.
The result was spectacular: in a few years the web pages drastically reduced the space allocated to advertisements. Users had a much better experience with “Type 2” services that earned more revenue because the ads they were displaying were much more effective. And even “type 1” services made more sales.
At what price ?
It says “When it’s free, it’s the product”. More specifically, the product services of “type 3”, it is the data of the users. This business model is at the base of companies that have today become the largest market capitalizations in the world.
Everything is done to attract users (promotions and network effects) and to prevent them from leaving (by raising the cost of departure, by creating addictions). This tends to create “silos” between which the lack of interoperability is of course wanted.
These data characterize each user: his tastes, his habits, his desires, his state of health, his age group, his political orientation, religious, sexual etc. All the data collected on a user makes it possible to build a profile much more precise than what he could say of himself if one asked him.
Subsequently, these profiles are resold to all who can benefit: advertising for targeting purposes, insurers for risk assessment (and therefore premium), politicians for political marketing purposes (or even mass manipulation).
When there is collusion with the states, and this is the case even in the democracies, it allows the mass surveillance, with as an immediate side effect the generalized self-censorship (the English speakers speak of “chilling effect” , literally “the cooling effect”).