The Facebook Dilemma

With the recent reveal that Facebook user data was compiled in such a way to sway voters in the United States, many have called for a boycott — or outright abandonment — of Facebook as a social media platform. I completely understand these concerns, but I’d like to share a bit of wisdom I heard several years ago that specifically regarded Facebook.

If you aren’t paying for it, you ARE the product

That quote hit me hard, and also made me realize how much money Facebook — and other sites that offer similar services — can make behind the scenes, not only from selling ads but also selling its user information.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s 90% likely that you came here from Facebook based on information provided to me by one of the applications I use to track general metrics. I’ve mentioned previously my discomfort with having all my eggs in the Facebook basket, but after a number of only vaguely successful attempts at encouraging people to sign up for direct email notifications, I’m not sure what else I can do to wean myself off of the need for Facebook. It’s the 800-pound gorilla of social media, and as long as that’s the case it can’t simply be ignored by anyone who uses social media for self-promotion.

In the end, the fact that Facebook data was used in such a way should come as no surprise. In the terms of use agreement we all must accept to use the site, they spell out that our data, once posted to Facebook, is no longer ours alone. They have always been up front about what they intended to do, and the fact that an outside organization gamed the system — possibly illegally — doesn’t change things one bit. Facebook is there to make money, and if we have a problem with the way they do that, finding someplace else to connect with friends is step one.

5 thoughts on “The Facebook Dilemma

    • Fair comment, BUT: not always possible. People move — following jobs and so forth — and keeping in touch can be tough without social media to help.

  1. Agree whole-heartedly. I’d love the world to be a different place, but then again, I’d like to be colonizing Mars and riding unicorns. Everything except love comes with a price tag in today’s world, social media included. To paraphrase a famous pirate: “Life is marketing, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

    • I’m thinking anyone could, if they had enough knowledge and training. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t!

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