The anti-platform?

There is now a large stream of scholarly literature on “platforms” – loosely, third-party services designed to bring transacting parties together. Amazon.com and eBay are obvious examples. Broadly interpreted, so are services like online dating sites (see the work by Hanna Halaburda and colleagues).

With this in mind, I came across the following article: Ghostery: A Web tracking blocker that actually helps the ad industry | VentureBeat. Ghostery is an app offered by the advertising technology company Evidon. The app is used by privacy-conscious web surfers to block web tracking services. When a new tracker attempts to install a tracking cookie on a browser sporting Ghostery, the tracker is blocked and Ghostery sends the tracker information back to Evidon to be added to the company's database of web trackers, which improves the quality of the app.

The interesting twist in the business model is that Evidon then turns around and licenses its tracker database to the very ad networks its app is designed to block. In fact, says Evidon CEO Scott Meyer, “When a new web tracker comes on the scene, they often want to be listed in Ghostery. It’s proof that they’ve arrived and have influence.”

So, what do we call a service that helps side A avoid side B while helping side B pursue side A? Seems as if this phenomenon should have its own, suitably clever-yet-scholarly term.

 


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