We Were Private Before Private Was Cool
Have you been hearing all the talk about privacy lately? In articles and blog posts it seems like the world is talking about privacy in a way it never has. And even companies like Facebook are declaring The Future Is Private! I think this is a great thing, and long overdue. How long? About a decade.
Like most of us I was fascinated by the emergence of the web in 90s and early 2000s. The possibilities for individuals to connect to anyone or any group was obviously revolutionary. But as someone who ran websites and servers I also understood that we did not have as much privacy or anonymity as people assumed.
And then social networks happened. While the web promised a decentralized form of communication, big social and search sites starting pulling that in the opposite direction. This meant our thoughts, our relationships, our likes and dislikes were all being collected by a centralized system that would be ripe for misuse. So around 2010 I started pondering what sort of system I might create to address these issues, and in 2012 I decided I had the solution. I hired a design firm to help me go from idea to product, and they requested a summary of the idea. Here is part of what I wrote them in October of 2012:
Social networks provide ways to share information, and connect with the people in our lives. Cloud storage and services provide ubiquitous access to our files and media, allowing us to always have access to the information and media we create and collect.
However these abilities come with a cost. When we share our lives with our friends, we are also sharing our lives with marketers and data miners. When we store our information in remote clouds, we lose the ability to insure they are private and secure. Our personal pictures, communications, and interests are all being sifted, creating digital profiles that we have little to no control over other than not to participate.
This conundrum between sharing and privacy exists to this day, and is only starting to be addressed. But there is a fundamental issue that prevents sites like Facebook and Twitter from truly respecting your privacy. It all comes down to one question. Who pays for the servers?
Any website or social network requires an always on infrastructure. All of the current major social networks have advertising pay for that infrastructure. And the reason that advertisers pay is they want information about you. So as long as the business model is ad supported, you are the product.
At Neone, you are not the product. We have believed that from the moment we started designing our system nearly a decade ago, and we believe it now. That is why we have kept building Neone and refining the concept as we went. Because privacy is more than a product, it’s what allows us to be ourselves.