Research Exposes Digital Advertiser Tactics: Meta and Alphabet's Profit from User Data

If you think you are using the internet for free, think again. Even all the online activities you see on your phone like advertisements and other content, it isn’t just for you. All of the content we see on social media and online is decided with commercial enterprises just to gain profit. A PhD candidate, Aleksandre Zardiashvili, researched about how advertising works and the impacts it has on users. He said that all the activities we see and do online are because of two strong powers– Meta and Alphabet. Most of the social media apps you use like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are Meta owned and Alphabet owns YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps. When you use any of these apps, your online behavior, search history and social media activity is tracked.

Zardiashvili explained that digital advertisers use your online behavior to suggest ads that are of your interest. Meta and Alphabet earn a lot of money by selling those ads. Between 2018 and 2022, Meta earned $125 billion revenue and a large part of it was through advertisements. Many users think that not allowing cookies on websites will not make advertisers track your online preferences. Even though European law stops advertisers to track online behavior if the user hasn’t given permission through cookie banners, some still do so. Instagram is a great example of those who ask its followers to either use the app for free with advertisements or pay 9 euros and use the app with no advertisements. Many users choose the free option which allows the app to monitor their preferences for ads.
Zardiashvili also noted that even though users are free beings, they still cannot escape online tracking for advertising. The money hungry advertisers only care about themselves and not about the users who shouldn’t be getting personalized advertisements. To keep themselves safe from such exploitations, users cannot give up the internet completely. But what they can do is raise their voices about privacy rules and regulations just like the European Data Protection Board is doing.

Image: DIW-Aigen

Read next: CIRP Reports: Nearly Half of iPhone Users Pay for Additional Storage Tiers

Previous Post Next Post