Understanding the data gathering obsession

Modern businesses enforce most decisions and ideas with information acquired by web scraping. The internet gives everyone great tools for accelerated communication and improved data storage, which sparked data gathering obsession. Companies look for the slightest advantages to outperform competitors in every field imaginable. Information is king and the side which accumulates more valuable data stays ahead of the curve.

While some companies barely manage to analyze their own aggregated information, bigger tech companies push the boundaries of privacy to get more benefits from data aggregation.

The extent of data gathering encourages companies to abandon a humane approach to technology and prey on consumer addiction to turn customers into profit. Even modern technological devices come with vulnerabilities to simplify the extraction of public data. While some internet users feel paranoid about the abandonment of privacy on the web, others see the benefits of web scraping projects and focus on learning it as a complementary skill for a career in computer science.

But giving up on online privacy is a dangerous idea. If internet users sit idle while the last strip of internet anonymity gets taken away, the aftermath of the data gathering obsession can create a technocratic dystopian future.

The misuse of powerful information extraction tools can be observed in several cases where tech companies abuse applications and devices to collect user information for personal gain. Social media networks can spy on their own users, while other businesses buy sets of user data. Some use them to improve company strategy while others sell them to advertisers. But how do these companies manage to extract so much information without any consequences?

The amount of exposed data can be minimized

While the days of the free internet are long gone, web surfers still have tricks up their sleeves to reduce digital footprints and mask their network identity. This restricts the recipient web servers from collecting private information based on browsing patterns, IP addresses, and visited websites. A US proxy server supplied by a legitimate provider messes up the consistent variables by which social media networks, third-party advertisers, and other companies recognize and track internet users. US proxies also have other useful applications – a web surfer with a US proxy can visit a geo blocked website that would otherwise be only available to local users. Readers can click here to learn more about the benefits and functionality of these intermediary servers.

However, changing one variable may not be enough to prevent data aggregation. User-agents inform the recipient server about the user’s browser and the version of the operating system. Changing it while simultaneously establishing a connection through a proxy server combines the two protective measures to minimize recognizability.

Internet privacy advocates encourage the usage of these solutions because IP and user agent tracking make the browsing experience much more convenient. While the address exposes the user’s approximate location, it also uses this information to present the most appropriate version of a website to create the most comfortable personalized experience.

 A sacrifice for modernity

The only way to avoid private data aggregation is to live a life without information technologies. For most internet users today, this option seems impossible. However, a choice to abstain from smart devices will not erase thousands of digital footprints that accumulate over the years and stay forever in databases of websites and social media networks.

Parasocial relationships constructed on social media keep growing in significance. The addictive entertainment encourages users to maximize usage time while extracting as much information as possible. Digitized social lives prey on the gullible minds of children, teenagers, and young adults. The obsession with data gathering went from aggressive extraction to creating behavioral loops that encourage users to behave in a way that fits the company’s agenda.

Because most internet users are too invested and addicted to rejecting modernity, tech companies implement new data extraction capabilities into smart devices and applications. Some businesses set up the functionality of their services in a way that collects all user information by default, less significant objects, such as cheap Internet of Things devices, never inform the user about potential security gaps and data extraction.

Extracted data is a diverse source of income

Large tech companies, especially giant social media networks, can rarely utilize, analyze and apply oceans of collected user information. While most claim that their main source of income comes from advertisement, collected data has far too many applications. The data possessed by these platforms can be used to reconstruct the entire lives of many interlinked users. The information can be sold to advertisers that can create personalized ads for a product that a potential client discussed with their friends. Tons of private user information is often sold in data sets to improve artificial intelligence.

The services of beloved social media networks no longer seek to provide the best product to their users. We can observe many platforms making questionable decisions that add no value to the performance of a website or an application. When the product is addictive enough for users to interact daily, tech companies treat their user base as a product. A resource that keeps on giving gives immense power to its owner due to its applicability. Tools and applications that connect people all around the world have become the most powerful tools of surveillance. Because of that, social media presence and Internet of Things devices will only bring more concern into the lives of people concerned about internet privacy.