Hacker News Re-Imagined

Even if you’re paying, you’re still the product

3 days ago

Created a post 192 points @deworms

Even if you’re paying, you’re still the product

@gerbilly 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

We’ve squandered the ‘personal’ part of personal computing.

A lot of this tracking nonsense is enabled by services which rely on server side processing.

For example somewhere lower down someone mentioned an AI assitant to extract todos from your emails.

This might not be so bad if the AI was running on your machine. But of course it’s always running on some cloud server.

For another example, any of those Alexa like devices have to analyse your voice input serverside. If it could do text to speech with local processing then it would be possible to make the device much more respectful of your privacy.

If you want total contol over your data, you have to use programs that can be used totally offline.

Regrettably everything is subscription now. Hold on to your perpetually licenced software if you still have any!

Reply


@encryptluks2 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Does that mean that Odysee itself thinks that its users are the product?

Reply


@corpdrone2021 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

I realized this when Microsoft started reading the emails and attachments in my office 365 account, and having Cortana "helpfully" suggest various to-do items from them.

The degree to which this seems to be the case has me convinced that the only way I will actually have any control of my data is if it's on a hard drive in my physical possession. And frankly I don't have time to maintain my own IT infrastructure.

Reply


@s17n 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

And conversely, just because you're not paying doesn't mean you aren't a stakeholder. Companies value you based on his much money you make them, they don't care if it's ad money or not.

Reply


@emodendroket 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

> This is the worst possible situation for the advertisers, because it can reveal that tracking users offers no ROI. In fact, the overwhelming majority of ads are already being ignored, and they're basically fighting for scraps.

Well, it could, but what if it showed the opposite?

Reply


@poidos 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

It gets grosser by the day.

This is something that is endemic not just to ad-tech companies, but regular brick and mortar stores as well: it isn't enough to just be consuming, to actually be producing value for the business: they must monetize as many seconds of our attention as possible!

If I'm buying gas, I'm being served ads via the little screen. If I'm at the grocery store, there's ads plastered onto my cart. Buy something online? I get ads for unrelated products emailed to me in the weeks after, even if I didn't agree to be marketed to (I never do.)

It makes me feel like I'm going crazy, sometimes. And what's worse is it feels like there isn't an end in sight.

Reply


@trop 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

> 13.6% of Faceberg's $94.4b is almost $13b. A good start, but we'll need more.

Presumably a slip on the part of the author, rather than facetious. Regardless extremely unfortunate.

Reply


@shoto_io 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

I agree in general. Although I still firmly believe it’s not the case with Apple. Haven’t been convinced otherwise yet.

Reply


@jamiequint 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

My primary problem with this article is that the author assumes that consumers get no value from ads. While the author may not personally like ads, it is undeniable that thousands to tens of thousands of consumer brands (the same ones who are now suffering with iOS 14.5 changes) now exist as a result of Facebook’s distribution. These brands mostly would have failed in a pre-FB-ads world. The idea that there is zero consumer value from Facebook ads or ads in general is absurd. There is a real cost to disabling tracking and blocking ads, it’s just often not borne immediately, or in a directly measurable way.

Also, while I understand the general aversion to tracking. If one believes that any advertiser cares about tracking their behavior individualy - rather than in aggregate - they are suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Reply


@cblconfederate 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

> Most people don't though. Given choice, most choose to not be spied on. Mindboggling.

I agree that tracking is oversellign itself, and sadly, the monopolization of ads has led to more and more, and worse ads being shown on websites. I do however want the sites i visit to make money, through advertising if possible. It's the most direct and easy way, since we are not yet allowed to have direct peer-to-peer payments on the web without 17 rent-seeking middlemen eating them up. As much as advertisers are to blame for pushing tracking vs other advertising channels, the payment gatekeepers are worse

Reply


@npteljes 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Since ads with tracking sell better than ads without - never minding whether it's worth it or not - businesses who do more tracking will fare better. Since the market won't, regulation could help at this point, but I don't think that will happen, because businesses and goverments have similar interests here. From a government standpoint, let the businesses track the users, and when the time comes, they'll just get the results with a subpoena.

In conclusion, the general public's privacy is only important to the general public. The other entities are struggling for the opposite of privacy, and this is why I think we're seeing such an invasion on privacy.

Reply


@yodelshady 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Very similar logic applies to the durability too.

Being expensive is, usually, a necessary criterion for being "good", whether that means "privacy-friendly" or "durable", but it's not sufficient. Being cheap IS a sufficient criterion for being cheap.

If you can prove your expensive, but good product actually lives up to the claim, I might buy it. Ironically, it's an advertising problem.

Reply


@TheMagicHorsey 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

On one hand he says companies have no incentive to allow you to block tracking. On the other hand half the article is about how Apple allows you to do precisely that.

Silly author.

Reply


@Havoc 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

This is currently annoying me with the economist and Financial Times. Even after paying their heavy subscription you’re bombarded with ads and FT has the audacity to block you from some article because they added another tier of premium above that.

Their content is good sure but they sure are milking that on all fronts

Reply


@Kim_Bruning 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

If you're not paying, you're the product.

If you are paying, you're the rube who's dumb enough to actually pay for stuff. :-P

Reply


@yur3i__ 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

I think the only analogy that works now is "if you aren't in control, you're the product", ala free software and self hosting

Reply


@agloeregrets 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

While entirely true, I cant help but think that the overall title effectively equates what happens on Facebook to what happens on a paid service of sorts when that is a bit unfair.

Reply


@cocktailpeanuts 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

The whole article took about a minute to load because apparently it’s being loaded from some decentralized network called lbry.

I would rather be the product and get a great user experience than a shitty user experience that sells itself based on some ideal that probably will not work economically in the long run. If a decentralized network you invested a lot of your life in becomes irrelevant, it’s worse than using a centralized network that actually stays around. And most “decentralized” networks have failed to show enough traction for me to feel secure about their future.

Reply


@trjordan 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

This line of thinking ends with "companies are evil." It's not totally wrong, but it's perhaps not a useful framing.

Businesses make money in all sorts of ways. Most big companies blend these together. NYTimes charges users AND sells ads. Enterprise SaaS sells licenses AND charges for installation and configuration services. App store widgets charge for download AND sell aggregate data.

Brand gets undersold in a lot of tech/startup communities, because those communities are frequently organized around doing new things, which necessarily don't have brands. But the answer to a lot of these problems IS brands, because brands are a proxy for trust.

At some point, if you want a service, you have to decide which company you trust the most to deliver it without misleading you or doing things you disagree with. Most businesses run without constant lawsuits keeping them in line, because trust and word of mouth and reputation matters.

If you can't trust anybody, then don't use computers, I guess. But the world is shades of gray, and I do think it's worthwhile to figure out which companies you do trust.

Reply


@whckt 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

God forbid the milkman guarantee their customers are happy with the milk.

Reply


@nottorp 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Why do I have the feeling that a static site wouldn't have been slashdotted?

I can't comment on their opinions because all i get is a pretty loading animation...

Reply


@eevilspock 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

> There's an old adage that goes "if you're not paying for it, you are the product"

What does it say about our society that this is now an *old* adage?

Someone yesterday commented here that this is the most repeated quote on HN:

> "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it"

Everything we as a society today see as categorically wrong and repugnant was at one time in the not far past actively and passively accepted by the mainstream, with nearly everyone looking the other way and going with the flow. Yet even back then our societal conscience knew the very inconvenient truth. Those who repeatedly tried to wake society's conscience, to unbury the truth were invariably branded as radicals or crazies, doomed to be modern day Cassandras.

Reply


@praptak 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Point in case: cars. You pay quite a lot of your hard earned money for a car, and they are much worse privacy invaders than any nominally free product.

https://www.thezebra.com/resources/driving/tracking-technolo...

Reply


@api 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Payment is necessary but not sufficient to support privacy-respecting software and services.

Yes a paid service or application can still track you, but without payment companies don't even have the option of respecting privacy. Without payment the only possible financial model for software and services is surveillance capitalism or ads, with the latter usually leading directly to the former.

Reply


@moron4hire 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

> I'm shocked that it's as high as 25%. Why would anyone say yes to this prompt? What do you have to gain?

There have been plenty of studies and I've even done my own studies. Most people don't read prompts. Most people don't even register consciously that a prompt even appeared. They have gotten so used to clicking through prompts that they have become blind to them.

Prompts are the wrong way to do almost anything, unless the user is expecting the prompt to appear.

Reply


@zahrc 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

When using free products, I don’t mind ads, I do mind being tracked.

The problem nowadays is that tracking and ads are pretty much a mutual thing today. And the worst about it is, to this day I still have to find an ad which seems relevant to me…

Reply


@vegetablepotpie 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

In theory, if you’re paying, it means that you’re a stakeholder, and can have some influence over the companies revenue, and therefore have some leverage.

In practice, the fact that you are paying for a service makes you much more attractive to advertisers because it says you’re willing to spend money online.

Reply


@racl101 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Definitely the case with those Nvidia Shield units. Fuck those pieces of shits.

Reply


@mlang23 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Spon on. And that is why I will not pay for a YouTube abo. The day I can not stand the ads anymore, I will quit the cold turkey.

Reply


@pdpi 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

The next to last paragraph bothers me:

    On Hackernews, they think it's "entitlement" to think that you can use free email
    and search engines and expect not to be tracked. The main problem with this line
    of thinking is that even if you had the option to pay for your email and for your
    search engine, some G**gle executive somewhere would mention during a meeting that
    they could add an extra $X million of revenue if they started using data from it
    from targeted advertising.
Expecting a valuable service with absolutely no consideration in return absolutely is a case of entitlement. If that consideration isn't cash, it has to be something else. If you're paying cash for the service, though, you're well within your right to set expectations on the terms the service is provided on.

Reply


@telendram 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

Interestingly, the author manages to spend the entire blog entry without even mentioning Apple's own Ad Network. If there is a single example where you pay (the devices, the apps) and are nonetheless tracked (without even receiving a warning selection prompt, in contrast with _all others_ Ad networks), it should be this one.

Reply


@LatteLazy 3 days

Replying to @deworms 🎙

One of the few concrete changes I think would improve big tech, privacy etc would be to require providers over a certain size to offer a paid option and then NOT advertise, track, share data etc.

Maybe the price would be stupidly high. Maybe 99.9% of people wouldn't pay. But at least the option would exist.

We could even require providers to link the price to the advertising etc revenue missed.

Reply


About Us

site design / logo © 2021 Box Piper