Why let social networks and online trackers collect and sell your data when you could do it yourself?
Facebook and other social networking sites aren’t free.
They don’t charge you money to connect with friends, upload photos, and “like” your favourite bands and businesses, but you still pay. You pay with your personal data, which these service use to target ads.
For Citizenme, the price you pay is much higher, and it’s trying to shift internet economics back in your direction. The long-term plan is to provide a way for you to sell your own online data directly to advertisers and others of your choosing. But it isn’t there just yet. In the meantime, it’s focused on helping you collect and analyze your social media data through a mobile app that connects to multiple social networks—giving you more insight into how things work today. “The very first step is raising awareness, helping people understand what’s being done with their data,” says Citizenme founder StJohn Deakins.
Deakins, who has experience building mobile technologies for emerging markets, got the idea for Citizenme a few years ago, after selling mobile video company Triple Media to the private equity firm NewNet in 2010. “The biggest issue I could see for the internet is our data and what happens to our data,” he says. He acknowledges that personal data is essential to the health of the net because it drives the advertising that funds things. But today’s invasive data collection policies have made people distrustful. Citizenme hopes to change that by making users more aware of this process and, ultimately, letting them decide how their data is used.