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Privacy and Personal Data

Christian Rudder's Data Ownership Talk Examines Online Services

— September 12, 2014 — Keynote Trends
In his data ownership talk, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder attempts to answer a complicated question of possession.

We engage in ongoing, transaction-based relationships with websites like Facebook and OkCupid. In exchange for uploading our content, we receive a very specific service. On OkCupid, for instance, users offer personal information about themselves, which is then plugged into an algorithm, in order to connect you with people to whom you are (romantically) compatible. On Facebook, you upload information for the sake of maintaining personal connections. In response to the argument that people should be compensated for the data they provide, as it is sold to advertisers, Rudder argues that advertising allows the services to be used free of charge.

That being said, Rudder also thinks that users should be able to wholly and completely remove themselves from that exchange when they tire of it. Though you can technically deactivate your Facebook, that doesn't mean your information, or the vestige of the online self you have created, has been completely removed. It is worrisome that, in some way, we will continue to be indebted to these websites and services, long after we've parted ways with them. Rudder predicts that, in the future, this total disengagement will be achieved -- for a cost. Privacy has historically been a privilege of the wealthy, a trend which is likely to continue in the online world.
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