Recently, a massive data scandal happened concerning Facebook, you’ve probably already heard about it, but there’s one point people fail to understand… You’re not Facebook’s client, you’re it’s product. And that goes for most social media networks.
Facebook is worth over 400 billion dollars, and it never asked any of it’s billions of users for money, how is this possible? Well, the short answer is ads. The long answer is a little bit more convoluted. As someone who has personally used Facebook ads in the past, the service is absolutely mind-blowingly amazing, never before have businesses had access to such a massive amount of potential customers.
Here’s something to take note of, those businesses are Facebook’s clients, not the users. So the platform has to cater to them, not the users, in order to keep the shareholders and directors happy. In order to achieve this, the network needs to become increasingly efficient at advertising it’s clients’s products, make no mistake, Facebook is in the advertising business, and it’s probably it’s top player. To distinguish itself as the premier advertising platform of today’s society, Facebook is pressured to more and more accurately target it’s users with personalized and specific advertisements, this is how the platform keeps it’s customers.
Let’s delve deeper into this subject, how does Facebook narrow down it’s advertisements? Well, simply put, it gathers data about each of it’s users and utilizes it’s magic (algorithms) to find connections between what is being advertised and what people like, dislike, share, etc, it then matches the advertisement with the user, and voilà. This, in essence, is Facebook’s business model.
Now the question arises, is this actually a bad thing?
What should we really be worried about here? What’s the big deal? First of all, the latest scandal involving Cambridge Analytica gathering massive amounts of data about people for a possibly political purpose shows that our data is not secure, and it can be used to manipulate us. There has been reports of fake Facebook accounts being used to legitimately start political uprisings by inciting a snowball effect. In addition, there exists a fear of government directly utilizing Facebook’s data collection abilities to manipulate it’s people.
There’s one thing that all of the above issues have in common though, they all rely on you inputting your data on Facebook. There’s only one real way to be secure, and that’s simply to not use Facebook, or any other social media.
But nobody wants to stop using Facebook, now what?