How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google

The contemporary internet was built on a bargain: Show us who you really are and the digital world will be free to search or share.

How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google

The contemporary internet was built on a bargain: Show us who you really are and the digital world will be free to search or share.

People detailed their interests and obsessions on Facebook and Google, generating a river of data that could be collected and harnessed for advertising. The companies became very rich. Users seemed happy. Privacy was deemed obsolete, like bloodletting and milkmen.

Now, the consumer surveillance model underlying Facebook and Google’s free services is under siege from users, regulators and legislators on both sides of the Atlantic. It amounts to a crisis for an internet industry that up until now had taken a reactive, whack-a-mole approach to problems like the spread of fraudulent news and misuse of personal data.

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