I’ve had a Facebook account for a long time. There was a time when Facebook was a fantastic tool to let your friends and family know what going on in life. I’m not a good Facebook friend though – I tended not to respond to the posts of others, rather, I’d click the obligatory like since it only took a moment to acknowledge their posts. It was much easier to post something to Facebook with a photo rather than call, email or text. It was so convenient – and free.
I’m writing in the past tense because I dumped Facebook. I stopped posting on Facebook last year because Facebook was spreading people’s bombastic vitriolic by placing it in my news feed. I was also bombarded with ads; everyone in the world was trying to sell me something or was trying to get me to agree with their political views. The convenience of Facebook disappeared. Truthfully, it’s just easier to NOT use Facebook than to read the social, political and personal opinions my friends and family felt they needed to ‘share with the world’ and in my feed.
In short order, we’ve gone from a country of citizens concerned about our online privacy to 214 million Facebook users, in January 2018, vying for online attention by telling the data economy and scraping engines entirely too much information about ourselves, our family and our pets too. Everyone is contributing to the huge new world of social white noise trying to be heard and have their say – be it nasty or nice. When did we become so needy?
I gawk at our willingness to be ‘bought’ by a free service. Not too long ago, citizens were up in arms at the prospect of the U.S Government gathering our online information and using that data to spy on us. (People give the Government way too much credit). While they were looking at Washington, D.C. as ‘Big Brother’, companies in Seattle and San Francisco were executing on plans to gather vast amounts of user data to monetize and scale the large social networks they gave away to people to use for ‘free’. They have become an ‘Even Bigger Brother’. Yet we ignore what’s happening. Silly sheeple; complaining about the government and privacy when you have the apps of the largest offenders in the data economy installed on the phone you carry around with you everywhere, everyday – because it’s free.
Facebook happily thanks you though – to them your data privacy is worth $16. I good trade as far as they’re concerned. They love that you click on the multitude of highly personalized ads they display in your home feed. Have you ever wondered why the ads they present you seem so pertinent to you or your recent online searches? They could care less that you may be offending your family and friends with your social, political and personal posts. Just come back everyday to check your feed and see their ads.
We’ve lost our minds with the amount of personal information we intentionally feed the data economy. The Government has nothing like the dossier that Facebook and others have on you. We have become our own worst enemies in the data privacy world — and will continue to do so, because Facebook is still free.