Would you pay $1k to go “off the digital grid?”

If you could totally erase your online footprint, would you put your money where your autofill is?


December 13, 2017

How about $9.99 a month?

The Harvard Business Review recently asked readers what they would pay to “buy back” their entire digital footprint from internet companies. 

But even if you could erase your online identity, there are actually some pretty great upsides to being “public” online — even if it comes at the expense of creepily accurate ad targeting.

The perks of being an ad target

  • Free stuff: Facebook is “free, and it always will be” — but that’s because they made nearly $28B last year on selling personal data from its users. Take away their golden goose, and you better believe that money’s coming out of its 2B users’ pockets.
  • Stuff that feels like yours: “Freeing yourself” of tracking cookies also means no more “Welcome back, Bethany” greeting on your favorite site, saved search history on Google, or autofilled billing addresses when you buy something online.
  • Not reading the T&Cs: Do we complain about signing our data rights over to Big iPod (Apple) when we go to download an app? Sure. Would we actually read through a 30-page user agreement and redline everything we take issue with everytime we update our software? Probably not: it took this guy 9 hours to read Amazon’s T&Cs out loud.

Your data isn’t as priceless as you think it is

It’s pretty tough to estimate how much your personal data would cost, because companies typically sell data on an aggregate level. As VICE Money puts it, the value of personal data is that companies collect a lot of it.

On the “dark web,” a person’s info can run from just $0.0005 for basic demographic data to about $15 for actual credit card numbers. Not exactly a king’s ransom…

So, allow us to play devil’s advocate:

We all talk a big game about protecting our personal identities from hackers, and we throw fits about companies selling our data. But when push comes to shove, most of us wouldn’t put our money where our autofill is.

Blame Amazon Prime, AIM, or whatever first got you hooked on instant gratification, but at the end of the day, we’re creatures of convenience — and internet is poised to take full advantage.

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