OKCupid Co-Founder: You’re Trading Privacy For Free Use Of Facebook & Other Sites

We’re no fan of invasive advertising that tracks you across the Web in order to deliver you “targeted” ads that are allegedly more in line with your personal interests, and we get a bit queasy knowing that Facebook and other free sites are then selling your interest data to marketers. At the same time, we realize that free websites still need to make a buck. But where do you draw the line?

In a new interview with BigThink, Christian Rudder, author of Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), co-founder of free dating website OKCupid (and, more importantly, guitarist for Bishop Allen) explains that he understands why people don’t want their information shared, but argues that consumers are getting something out of the exchange.

“There is the argument that my data is my own and when I do something on Facebook or on OkCupid or wherever that that is an asset that I’ve created that I deserve to control,” he explains. “And of course Facebook’s argument, and obviously OkCupid’s argument as well, is what we’re giving you in exchange for your data very clearly are these tools. Like on OkCupid you can find dates. On Facebook you can connect with long lost friends. You have an easy platform to collect pictures… There’s nobody that has to use Facebook or certainly OkCupid; there’s plenty of alternatives for that.”

As for people who claim they should receive some sort of compensation when their data is sold to marketers, Rudder contends that you are being compensated — in the form of a site that is free to use.

“It’s not like the phone service where you used to have like a $50 phone bill or $100 phone bill every month,” he explains.

But where Rudder does see a problem is when a free site claims eternal ownership over your content.

“[W]hen you’re tired of that exchange — I don’t want to use Facebook anymore — you should be able to exit that experience wholly rather than leaving whatever vestige of yourself you have to leave now,” says Rudder. “I know that they give you tools for that and the world I think generally is coming around to this idea, but it is scary even to me as an owner of one of these websites… that you’re still beholden to them even after you’ve made that decision.”

You can check out the whole interview above, or watch a Bishop Allen video below: