YouTube… You are the Product!
by Jan Jackson
“When users don’t pay to use a service, their data and information becomes the product, and that product can go up for sale.” (Eliza Kern, Author & Gigaom Tech Reporter, “Instagram Rolls Out New Updates”, Dec 18, 2012. http://gigaom.com/2012/12/18/am-i-the-product-users-react-to-instagrams-terms-of-service-shift/. Accessed April 20, 2014. All Rights Reserved. 2014 Giagom, Inc.)
YouTube is a video-sharing web-site, on which users can upload, share, and view videos of their own production. Viewers can also comment on videos and respond to other viewer’s comments. This dual interaction has made it a powerful force in Web 2.0. YouTube impacts our society in two ways. First, it provides a main stream of daily information, (education and entertainment), on an endless array of subjects. Second, YouTube allows those who post videos and those who view them to interact in its massive social media environment.
According to Statistic Brain, http://www.statisticbrain.com/youtube-statistics/, (accessed 4/20/2014.) YouTube is unmatched by any social media site or Web 2.0 site in the world. The following statistics speak for themselves:
|Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute||65 hours|
|Number of videos viewed on YouTube everyday||4,250,000,000|
|Number of unique visits to YouTube every month||900,000,000|
|Total number of hours of video watched on YouTube each month||3.25 billion hours|
|Percent of YouTube visitors that come from outside the U.S.||70 %|
|Number of countries with localized versions of YouTube||42|
|Total number of languages YouTube is broadcast in||54|
|Amount of money Google paid for YouTube in November of 2006||$1.65 billion|
|Amount Sequoia Capital invested into YouTube in November 2005||$11.5 million|
|User submitted video with the most views – “Charlie bit my finger”||625,800,000|
Many speculate that it is impossible to be unaffected by the power of YouTube. Perhaps, they are right. The numbers are staggering. Yet, they beg the question: What does YouTube do with the enormous amount of data they mine, daily, from those who view, post and share information on their site.
YouTube does not require a password to access their gigantic library of videos. Anyone can view, comment or share their information. Every time anyone accesses their site they gather information from them.
What type of information do they gather? Here are a few examples to illustrate how your information is mined:
I. In order to comment or share YouTube information you must log-in with a Google-Plus account. This compels many users to open a Google Plus account. When you log-in to YouTube with your Google Plus account YouTube has access to all of your Google Plus data.
II. Cookies, (not the sweet, yummy ones, either); mine information from the pages you view on YouTube. This data is used in many ways and sold to companies for ‘commercial purposes’.
III. Other digital tracking codes and software are used to track your activity on Google searches, Google Maps, and many other Google owned subsidiaries. In other words, Google knows who you are and what you do, (and now so does the NSA.) YouTube is part of the Google family; and just like the Godfather, they know where you live. Each time you view a YouTube video you are being tracked and analyzed by a digital tracking code from Google that combines it with all of your other data they use and sell for ‘commercial purposes.’
The better question is; “What doesn’t Google and YouTube know about you?’
Our utilization of Web 2.0 is so entrenched in our lives that there may be few things that computer algorithms do not know about each one of us. Even though we have no absolute disclosures from YouTube and Google about the data analyses that belong to our IP addresses and private information; there are two things we know for sure. First, every time you view, share or post to YouTube you are being watched. Second, your information is the purpose for their site. You are the product of YouTube!