This episode explores the exploitation of personal data in a business model on popular social media platforms and in media outlets
Aurélie Pols is a founder, privacy Engineer and independent DPO, who consults globally for companies about their compliance obligations.
Wherever you go online and use services for free, then usually you are the product and your personal data and behaviour is gained insights from and sold to advertisers.
Meta’s business model for example is based on this. They want to turn from a free to use social media platform to a paid subscription model.
Aurélie delivers some revealing answers. First of all, she explains the current set up: The platform uses information about you and your posts and makes it available to advertisers. In the future, they will ask you to pay for your account, as the model as described above will no longer be in line with the current EU law.
Our discussion revolves around the prospective success of the new business model with special regards to Facebook which has lost lots of its popularity over the years, not least because of questionable business practices with people’s personal data (e.g. Cambridge Analytica).
Aurélie questions the subscription models ethics when Meta is asking you to pay in order for them to respect your fundamental rights.
We move on to discuss the brand new Digital Service Act (DSA) and DMA and Meta’s role and relation to GDPR before we begin to chat about media outlets: A common practice among newspapers and magazines websites is to lock content behind paywalls so that you have to buy the article or even entire subscription before you can read the article.
Legally speaking, this isn’t clearly defined but definitely it is unethical.
Obviously many newspapers struggle to keep up circulation figures and we don’t need to discuss that good journalism isn’t free, but pushing people into being tracked cannot be the solution, not least because it adds to democratic imbalance and discrimination against the less affluent.
Aurelie elaborates and weighs the legal arguments against each other but we both agree that we do not intend to buy subscriptions from every publication we wish to read articles from and that a more transparent way of consent is required to offer this kind of model.