Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Oath, the Product of Verizon’s Ownership of Yahoo and AOL, Will Be a Privacy Nightmare

Nilay Patel and Ben Popper of the Verge:

This is everything Verizon and AOL have been working toward over the past few years. Like every other broadband provider, Verizon wants to extract more revenue from its network by increasingly owning the media that travels over it.

But unlike AT&T (which bought DirecTV and is in the process of buying Time Warner) or Comcast (which bought NBCUniversal and invested in companies like BuzzFeed and our own Vox Media), Verizon’s plan is far more lowbrow: it’s going to churn out as much cheap content as it can from AOL and Yahoo and tell advertisers it can do a better job of delivering eyeballs because it has better ad-tracking capabilities than Google and Facebook.

If you think the legislators who voted in favour of stripping internet privacy protections from the FCC’s duties — or the FCC chairman himself — were unaware of the catastrophe they created, you’re fooling yourself. They knew perfectly well that ISPs are increasingly in charge of the entire process of media creation and delivery, and that ads could be sold on the back of that. All of this should result in a burst of economic activity, right?

I see a flaw in that: we’re becoming numbed by over-exposure to advertising. Maybe paving the road for ISPs to create the most highly-targeted advertising products will create a burst of economic activity, but I bet its effective timeline is limited, and it comes at the cost of selling out Americans’ privacy.