When you joined a website in the early years of the Internet, it was generally assumed that all the data you entered belonged to you. For instance, you could use any email service, and if you decided to switch to another email service, you could transfer all your data to your new account. Because your data and everything you produced were considered your property. At least, that was the case until recently.
Although this model may not have seemed favorable for service owners, it was great for users. Beyond personal privacy, this philosophy had a significant role in the development of the Internet and reaching its current state. It compelled services to continuously improve themselves and differentiate from their competitors to keep you as their members.
When a better alternative to any service emerged, and if the service you were using lagged behind, you would transfer to the new service. Thus, Internet actors were always striving to provide better services and focusing on new ideas. This development brought us to the Social Media era, which everyone talks about today. But is it really like that?
In fact, this process continued until Facebook challenged this understanding. In the early days, nothing you put on Facebook could be transferred elsewhere. In other words, control of your data was not in your hands but in Facebook’s hands. In response to growing reactions, Facebook relaxed this policy in October 2009, allowing you to transfer a significant portion of your data but one exception: the emails in your address book. Facebook’s defense on this matter was that this information belonged to your friends, not you. This was nothing more than treating people as fools because the real goal was to make it impossible for you to leave and make it difficult.
This can be considered as the beginning of the war between Google and Facebook. Google could transfer your data from your account to Facebook, but the reverse was not possible. Around the end of 2010, Google announced that it would block the transfer of data from its services to services that did not allow data transfer. It even created a warning screen for Gmail users, stating that if they transferred their information to Facebook, they could not take it back.
As you know, this war has escalated over time. Facebook continued to grow rapidly, reaching more than a billion users, and it became evident that it was a serious threat to Google. In the war with a new front opened by Google using Google+, this time Google acts paranoid towards Facebook. Both sides are after making billions of dollars by collecting our data and selling it to advertisers. Facebook, with an increasing appetite, is now keeping records of even what you do on the Internet, aside from its own platform, and can use them as it pleases. In short, in the rapidly polarizing world of the Internet, the cornerstone of freedom, our data, is now a captive.
Remember the early years of the Internet: Everything was supposed to be open and free for everyone, right? We were all going to share information freely, weren’t we? Everything was going great until services realized that they could turn the user information they held into money. Now, with billions of dollars at stake, conditions have changed, and nothing will be the same as before.
In conclusion, our data has long ceased to be ours, and nothing will ever be the same.