Pigs in a digital world

Have your heard the joke about the two pigs? I think it’s a great way to start the new year (happy new year!). So here you are:

((photo de saucisson

Two pigs are in a farm and have a chat:

I love this place! Isn’t it cool that all the food is for free?

The second pig swallows its food and replies:

Of course, and on top of it, the lodging is for free too!

I often tell this story during talks I give at conferences, then I show the following image:

Saucissons.jpg

Most of the people have a laugh when seeing the dry sausage picture, making fun of the two pigs that think that they are customers of the farmer (If you did not know that they are not, I’m really sorry. I suggest that we avoid discussing the Easter bunny and Sant Klaus in the future).

Pigs are not the farmer’s customer. They’re just raw material. The actual customer is the one who pays money.

On the other hand, most of us thing that we are customers of Google and Facebook and similar “free” on-line services. Facebook is pretty open about it on its home page: “It’s free and always will be.” Gmail, Google Search, Google Maps and many other services work the same way…

Luckily, we will not end up in thin slices of dried sausage, but seeing that pigs are so naive leads us to the following question: how come that if we’re not the clients of such companies, they end up being so rich and valuable?[1] Actual clients are people or organizations that do pay. In this case, it’s the advertisers, who buy targeted advertising from Facebook and Google. For the ads to be targeted, Google and Facebook have to collect as much data as possible to profile the users.

Facebook does it by analyzing what we like, what we click on when visiting Facebook.com. Things get worse on mobile, as the Facebook app for Android requires access to a whole lot of personal data: GPS position, address book, text messages and so on:

Permissions_Facebook_Android.png

Over all, we’re not Google’s or Facebook’s clients. We’re digital pigs. It’s high time that we claim our privacy and personal data, by using services that are not based on targeted advertising… Cozy Cloud and its personal Cloud approach, for example! For now, Cozy Cloud’s commercial offering is not yet open to the public, but I suggest that you subscribe to our newsletter so that we keep in touch about the upcoming Cozy Cloud launch!

Note

[1] The infamous GAFAMs (Google-Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) are the 5 most valuable companies worldwide.