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Technology giants try to give more privacy to users, but run into the business model itself

Technology companies used to be greeted enthusiastically when they introduced a new product or service. But it’s not like this anymore. One example was the announcement of Libra , the crypto-currency of Facebook, which has left economic regulators, governments and even resounding consumers questioning the delivery of financial details to the social network.

Gone in recent times, giants Google and Facebook have announced recent measures in favor of more privacy, but still run into the business model itself, where user data is an important “currency” for profiling and selling targeted advertising, analysts say. heard by the G1 .

“I remain curious to see how far these recent [privacy] announcements will be taken seriously and whether they will eventually affect these companies financially, or whether they are really seeking a transformation in their business model,” says André Gualda, an analyst at Ericsson’s trend lab.

He explains that most services, both Google and Facebook, rely on ads and algorithms that feed on the personal information of their users.

In practice, according to him, there is an exchange: the greater the privacy, the lower the value of the ads and the effectiveness of the algorithms.

The promises of companies

Technology giants, including Apple , which uses privacy as a marketing tool, have addressed the issue in their developer-driven “mega-events,” where the privacy theme is often not prominent.

On Facebook, the target of scandals in the last year , the theme was sold by President Mark Zuckerberg as a new stage in the life of the company.

Zuckerberg went so far as to say that “the future is private” – a vision that goes against the previous attitudes of the social network. And he said the social network will now focus on groups and on conversations between users.

It has not been announced, however, any measure that increases the control of what is shared by company profiles.

Google has introduced tools to make it easier for the platform’s privacy settings . And promised to Android , which runs on 2.5 billion smartphones worldwide, a safer application store and updates easier to make.

While company president Sundar Pichai was announcing the news, an airplane flew over the open-air auditorium where the conference took place outside San Francisco carrying the phrase, “Google’s control is not privacy . “

In an article in The New York Times published on the same day, Pichai wrote that users define privacy in a very personal way. “That means privacy can not be a luxury good, offered only to those who can afford premium products and services.” It was a clear message to Apple.

At Apple’s conference , Apple ‘s vice president of software Craig Federighi repeated a mantra President Tim Cook said : “We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and we put it into everything we do,” he said.

The company has shown a feature for secure login in applications or services , a function dominated today by Google and Facebook.

The announcement has already come with an aura of protection: Apple says it does not share information with partner applications and even allows the creation of an “email mask” to keep even this information secure.

According to a study by Acxiom data consultancy, consumers can be divided into 3 profiles, which have different relationships with privacy in the digital world:

  • Pragmatic: those who are willing to exchange some data, depending on the service and analyzing case by case;
  • Fundamentalists : those who are not willing to share information or good technologies;
  • Carefree : those who do not care about the issue of data privacy.

In the United States, the pragmatists are majority, 58%; followed by fundamentalists, 24%; and by carefree, 18%.

Among Americans, 48 ​​percent say they are more concerned with how their data are used than in the past – up from 55 percent in Canada and 73 percent in the Netherlands.

A Ericsson survey last year pointed to the main concerns of users of digital platforms in the world :

  • false profiles (54% of responses)
  • false news (51%)
  • invasive ads (48%)
  • issues related to privacy (41%)

“The most important point now is damage control,” says André Gualda, who helped lead the study. “Social networks have been heavily exposed and today they have fragile brands regarding privacy and user confidence.”

According to Arruda, from WGSN Mindset, the results of the research in the more developed markets can be brought to Brazil. He assesses that privacy also holds sway for Brazilians.

Who is going to get along?

For Gualda, companies realized that privacy has become a competitive differential.

In that case, Google has been able to do better. In its recent announcements, the use of artificial intelligence appears as one of the spearhead investments for high-quality technical services – from the quick-acting virtual assistant to functions that let you know if the subway is full , for example.

“Data is what makes the products and services more useful to you,” wrote the president of Google in the NY Times.

Apple itself uses competitors’ search engines – despite the differences in privacy view between the two companies. In a recent interview, President Tim Cook said that this partnership exists because Google’s service is the best on the market.

And the concern with data will not stay only in technology companies. “(They) lead this movement because they are the most pressed. The next step is to start seeing this concern going to other segments, other categories, “concludes Arruda, from WGSN Mindset.

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