The real cost of the “free” Internet

Each time you visit a website with apparently "free" content personal data is taken from you. This valuable information is harvested and sold by digital advertisers.

(Source: iStock / istock_onespirit)

Jeremy TillmanDirector of Product, Ghostery

In the U.S., digital ad spend reached $72 billion in 2016, and with roughly nine out of ten American adults now connected to the Internet, the typical U.S. Internet user is worth around $250 per year to digital advertisers.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Digital advertisers are making approximately $250 annually – roughly twice the cost of a Netflix subscription – off you and your browsing data. This might be surprising to Internet users, not only because it’s a lot of money (more than is spent on TV advertising), but also because digital advertisers make this money in large part by harvesting and selling your valuable personal information. In fact, personal data is taken from you each time you visit a website in order to target you with ads in exchange for what appears to be “free” content, a lopsided transaction that puts your privacy and security at risk.

You want to learn more about the free Internet’s real costs and how you can protect yourself? Read my guest post on MediaShift.

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