In Digital breadcrumbs: the data trail we leave behind us, the article highlights that we leave a digital footprint everywhere we go as we operate through our day-to-day activities. In Trying not to drop breadcrumbs in Amazon’s store shares a story of how it’s impossible to avoid leaving breadcrumbs because processes have been integrated into an online model.
The same concerns also occur behind stock market applications, websites, and content users consume. The stock market is more accessible than it has ever been due to the movement online which requires no human intervention. It also requires very little effort to keep up with market news through platforms like Youtube, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, and more.
Users can create a stock watchlist that gives notifications on related news to this watchlist in realtime. I personally love to conveniently check my watchlist daily or even multiple times the day on Yahoo Finance daily and receive notifications on the companies I follow. However, this comes at a cost of trading user information and leaving a breadcrumb trail of user stock interests for convenience.
Since these platforms are primarily free, they need to make money somehow. They likely monetize their site either through paid and featured articles, selling subscriptions or ads. Since users are frequent visitors and register their watch lists, these platforms can leverage the information users give them for free and in return give users more precisely targeted ads.
On Yahoo Finance, users can even register how many shares they currently have. This is very convenient when users want to consolidate portfolios across different brokerages. Now Yahoo Finance can know the balances of user-created portfolios.
If users choose to avoid 3rd party platforms and relied on their centralized brokerages like TD Web Broker, Questrade, or National Bank Direct Brokerage, user information will still be tracked. The user would also cripple their market news updates because the news would be centralized and places like Yahoo Finance query all publications for news. Centralized brokerages actively monitor what their clients buy in order to measure and calculate the risk of their customers.
When trying to navigate the stock market as an individual investor, it is impossible to leave a trail of what you’re interested in. There is always someone who can watch your activities and benefit from them. Stock platforms that offer news based on watchlists can easily build a model of your interests for monetary gain either through ads or recommending content. If users want to stay informed or participate in the stock market users must trade their information for news and convenience.