NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent Pew Research article pinpointed major concerns with social media platforms. "Americans have complicated feelings about their relationship with big technology companies," the article observes. "While they have appreciated the impact of technology over recent decades and rely on these companies' products to communicate, shop and get news, many have also grown critical of the industry." The article goes on to report that a Pew Research Center survey found that "roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults say it is very (37%) or somewhat (36%) likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable. Just 25% believe this is not likely the case." The events of the last few weeks have made that article appear almost prophetic as issues of censorship and privacy have gained additional prominence on the world stage. A number of private and public companies are working to resolve these issues, with many of those companies relying on blockchain to provide their services. Leading the pack is BIGtoken, the first consumer-managed data marketplace where people can own and earn from their data. The opportunity ahead has such potential that parent company SRAX Inc. (NASDAQ: SRAX) is spinning out BIGtoken into a separate publicly traded company and has entered into a definitive share exchange agreement with Force Protection Video Equipment Corp. (OTCPK: FPVD). The separation of BIGtoken provides shareholders a pure play in the consumer-managed data sector. SRAX benefits from the potential upside of the BIGtoken platform while reducing operating costs. Social media behemoths such as Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) are under pressure to identify and remove hate-filled communication along with taking added measures to protect consumer data. Blockchain companies such as Riot Blockchain Inc. (NASDAQ: RIOT) could benefit from increased implementation of blockchain technology to protect consumers, safeguard information and ensure data privacy. Everyone's at risk as revealed by the recent Solarwinds hack, which compromised not just local, state and federal agencies but also major tech companies as well.
- Consumers starting to more deeply question growing censorship issues, lack of data control.
- Using blockchain, BIGtoken is first consumer-managed data marketplace where users can own, earn from their data.
- BIGtoken CEO writes that Privacy is fundamental human right whose time has come, and BIGtoken is pioneering the way forward.
Growing Concerns Surrounding Censorship, Privacy
Large social media sites now wield enormous power as they have become the dominant platforms of opinion and information. As they grew, they have used their codes of conduct to restrict certain opinions which is causing consumers to be acutely aware of the value of their personal data and driving them to alternative networks.
The issue of censorship on social media sites has never been more compelling — or divisive. A Jan. 14, 2021, Harvard Business Review article reported that "after years of controversy over President Trump's use of social media to share misleading content and inflame his millions of followers, social media giants Facebook and Twitter finally took a clear stand last week, banning Trump from their platforms — Facebook indefinitely, and Twitter permanently.
"Could this indicate a turning point in how social media companies handle potentially harmful content shared on their platforms? And could it herald a new era of social media reforms, through both government policies and self-regulation? For many, Facebook and Twitter's bans were long-awaited. But it's not so cut and dry, as many others have decried these decisions as infringements on free speech."
An "Observer Research Foundation" article stated that social media "is facing increasing pressure from both politicians and activists throughout the world as fake news and propaganda have found a fertile ground on these new platforms." The article notes that "tech giants are trapped in a tricky dilemma — how to save freedoms on the Internet and limitedly restrict them at the same time, and how not to overreact. Tagging controversial posts with warnings and blocking radical points of views — seem to be reasonable in today's world."
Censorship is a matter of perspective depending which side you're on, but it isn't the only issue rising to the fore. A recent Forbes article noted that "data privacy has become one of the defining social and cultural issues of our era." The article, which noted that "people are starting to more deeply question their growing lack of data privacy and control," shines a glaring spotlight on today's growing challenge of data privacy. The article reports that "roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government."
Providing Consumers with Choice
In the face of mounting concern about censorship and privacy, BIGtoken has tackled these problems early and head on. Through a transparent platform and consumer-reward system, BIG provides consumers with choice, transparency and compensation for their data. The system also provides advertisers and media companies access to transparent, verified consumer data to better reach and serve audiences.
Available for download on the App Store and Google Play, the BIGtoken app enables its rapidly growing 16-million-plus members to choose what data they want to share, as well as which companies can buy that data and how that data is used. Users provide data by answering questions, taking surveys and connecting various online accounts. BIGtoken then anonymizes the data, sells it to brand advertisers and shares the revenue with its users.
What's more, when BIGtoken users choose to share their data anonymously, they receive rewards in the form of cash or gift cards; they can even deposit their earnings directly into PayPal accounts or be paid through gift cards from favorite retailers such as Walmart. And users with philanthropic desires can donate their rewards to several high-profile, nonprofit associations.
BIGtoken users aren't the only beneficiaries. Advertisers and marketers that purchase access to anonymized segments of information from BIGtoken know that the data they receive is consumer verified and in compliance with the growing number of consumer privacy acts enacted not only in the United States but around the world. BIG's exclusive technology provides vetted data for brands in the CPG, investor relations, luxury and lifestyle verticals.
A New Era
Gig data and business analytics solutions is a booming business, one that is projected to reach $260 billion globally by next year. Those numbers make the space extremely attractive to companies with the technology, background and expertise to succeed. Launched in 2018, BIGtoken appears to be one of those companies.
Most recently, the company has added to its executive leadership strength with the appointment of crypto pioneer and digital media veteran Lou Kerner as CEO. Upon completion of the definitive agreement with Force Protection Video Equipment Corp, FPVD will be renamed BIGtoken Inc. with Kerner as CEO.
"I've been deeply interested in privacy since 2003 when I was running Bolt," said Kerner. "And my interest in crypto has also been fueled, in part, by its privacy features. As the world continues to move to ensure greater internet privacy for consumers, BIGtoken is well-positioned to help brands, media companies, research organizations and political campaigns efficiently reach consumers via compliant ad targeting and surveys. I further believe BIGtoken will greatly benefit by fully embracing crypto as an alternative reward for our growing consumer base."
The cause of data privacy is supported by BIGtoken. "Privacy is a fundamental human right whose time has come, and BIGtoken is helping lead the way, says Kerner in an article titled "The 5 Reasons I'm Joining BIGtoken as CEO." Kerner points out that data privacy isn't new, but the attitude shift by individuals, corporations and regulators/government is. "A new era of data privacy is, finally, upon us," states Kerner, whose expertise in cryptocurrency and blockchain brings an added level of expertise and insight to the company.
A Delicate Balance
Companies on the front lines are trying to balance free speech and public safety while addressing issues of censorship and data privacy as solutions may be found in blockchain utilization.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has developed a set of community standards that outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook. "We recognize how important it is for Facebook to be a place where people feel empowered to communicate, and we take seriously our role in keeping abuse off our service," the company states. "Our policies are based on feedback from our community and the advice of experts in fields such as technology, public safety and human rights. To ensure that everyone's voice is valued, we take great care to craft policies that are inclusive of different views and beliefs, in particular those of people and communities that might otherwise be overlooked or marginalized."
Twitter Inc.'s (NYSE: TWTR) purpose is "to serve the public conversation." The company's guidelines note that "violence, harassment and other similar types of behavior discourage people from expressing themselves, and ultimately diminish the value of global public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely." In addition, Twitter believes that a user should "always know what data we collect from you and how we use it, and that you should have meaningful control over both."
One of the largest U.S.-based, publicly traded Bitcoin miners in North America, Riot Blockchain Inc. (NASDAQ: RIOT) is focused on gaining exposure to the blockchain ecosystem through its cryptocurrency mining operations, internally developed businesses and joint ventures. The company's primary focus is on Bitcoin and general blockchain technology, the same blockchain technology being used by many companies to ensure data privacy and protection.
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