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Tags: time | change | digital | ecosystem

It's Time For a Change in the Digital Ecosystem

It's Time For a Change in the Digital Ecosystem
Alexandersikov | Dreamstime.com

By    |   Wednesday, 02 May 2018 10:22 AM EDT

As the cameras and public discourse turn towards Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s misuse of its users' data, it’s worth remembering how not extraordinary this whole charade really is. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal is egregious, but it’s just one of many incidents that compromised user data in the past several years.

In 2013, Yahoo Inc. reported a network hack that they said impacted 500 million users. As the company continued investigating the breach, the number of affected users continued to increase. Finally, when Comcast purchased Yahoo in 2017, it was revealed that all 3 billion Yahoo users were impacted by the breach. As former Defense Department cybersecurity expert, Jay Kaplan, told The New York Times, “Franklin, I don’t know how Yahoo got away with this.”

The full understanding of Yahoo’s predicament was quickly followed by reports that credit monitoring firm, Equifax, endured a high-stakes hack of its own. This breach compromised sensitive personal data from 143 million users.

While all these incidents are different in scope and consequence, they each contain a similar element: companies were slow to respond, and full disclosures were not immediately forthcoming. Each of these data breaches, and many more like them, have their roots in events that happened many years ago. Then came digital advertising.

It's widely known that Google and Facebook charge their advertisers high fees. Yet, on the flip side, publishers are struggling to get by with paltry salaries and delays in payment rampant in the industry. It appears that there is a need to reorient our relationship with the monetary models that drive these platforms, and, concurrently to explore new technologies that more closely accommodate the demands of a digital economy.

Blockchain Technology Offers Needed Change

Blockchain is best known as the accounting backbone for prominent cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. While it’s technical aspects involve some nuance, it is most popular for its decentralized network that spreads the computing requirements among many different computers housed all over the world. In this way, blockchain is creating a more capable and secure environment for the digital, information age. What’s more, the blockchain’s ability to tokenize user information that can be securely transmitted makes it an intriguing technology for privacy advocates and forward-thinking developers alike.

It’s even creating cohesion among disparate members of the U.S. Congress. In their 2018 Joint Economic Report, a bipartisan committee concluded that the blockchain is
“nearly invulnerable to cyberattack but is revolutionizing the way the world conducts commerce and shares information.”

Of course, the blockchain alone won’t solve all of the security, privacy and advertising issues facing tech companies and consumers. Instead, it’s the decentralized applications, commonly referred to as Dapps, that take advantage of the blockchain’s functionality while creating compelling new platforms for users to enjoy.

The Potential is in the Platforms

Several public blockchains allow users to develop unique platforms or companies that are serviced by the blockchain’s functionality. Fortunately, there are several companies currently providing innovative, blockchain solutions to many pressing problems regarding privacy, data control, and fair information.

Kind Ads are bringing in what is called a “new era of marketing,” with their method seemingly matching their mantra. Web content isn’t inherently altruistic. It’s intended to reach as broad an audience as possible so that content creators can monetize that publicity. However, it doesn’t mean that advertising has to be intrusive or obnoxious. Using their native digital currency, Kind Ads removes the middleman and allows publishers to deal directly with advertisers. The platform will be using the latest advertising methodologies to reach consumers directly on the one hand and be less intrusive to users on the other. Kind Ads are also compatible with Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.

Meanwhile, other projects like Basic Attention Token create a more direct relationship between users and the advertising content they consume. With BAT (their browser), users opt-in to viewing advertisements, and they are compensated directly for viewing specific content. This gives greater control to users because they have more sway over the content that they choose to see, but it also helps advertisers and companies by ensuring that consumers are actively engaging with their material.

In addition, AdEx, a decentralized advertising platform, is developing strategic connections between advertisers and consumers. By decentralizing the ad purchasing process and providing advanced metrics on performance, AdEx is enhancing the advertising process without compromising users’ privacy or security.

The Future is Decentralized

The unending procession of centralized services that have compromised user data is enough to make any consumer squeamish. To combat the problem, we need to look at the technology that allows this to keep happening, but we also need to readjust the economy that allows it to flourish. Ad revenue is the economy that drives the internet, and the blockchain is repositioning advertising as something that is more effective while also being more consumer friendly.

By most accounts, the internet is a toxic and potentially dangerous place to be. The blockchain and the platforms that reside on it are making it kinder, simpler, and safer for all.

Jim Hoffer is founder and managing director at Hoffer Financial Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.

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By most accounts, the internet is a toxic and potentially dangerous place to be. The blockchain and the platforms that reside on it are making it kinder, simpler, and safer for all.
time, change, digital, ecosystem
Wednesday, 02 May 2018 10:22 AM
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