The Cambridge Analytica fun and games has everyone up in a tizzy. Everyone is freaking out that their ‘data’ is being sold off all over the place.
It sounds scary!
Other people are getting your ‘data’!
You hear it in the news, in conversations, coming out of the mouths of politicians and reporters. Data Data Data. Your Data. They’re stealing it. They’re selling it. They’re using it. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It sounds bad. It sounds really bad.
But what is ‘data’? What is facebook selling that has you so excited?
Here’s what you need to know:
Facebook (and google, and many other people) are watching everything you do. Everything you look at online. Every page you go to. Everything you type or say. They know. And they keep track of it.
It’s their business. They want to know everything about you. They want to understand everything you do and like and don’t like. That is their (your) ‘data.’
Creepy? Sure, of course it is. It’s big brother.
put that aside and think about what this ‘data’ actually does.
First, what it isn’t. It’s not your identity. It’s not your bank account info. (Although they do know how much you make and how much you spend and what you spend it on and where you live and where you work and where you go on vacation.) It’s not your social security number. They aren’t taking over your mortgage or your car payments.
They are selling this profile of you to advertisers. These advertisers want to show their ads to people that are interested, and that might potentially buy, what they are selling. If you like expensive cheese, companies that sell expensive cheese can buy this info from facebook and put ads in front of you about their cheeses.
Is that better or worse than seeing random ads for things you aren’t interested in? YOU DECIDE!
(you might also notice that ads in other places are selected based on who they think is going to see them. Beer ads during football. Fabric softener ads during soap operas. Berserk addictive crap ads during kids cartoons. This is all based on your ‘data’ as well.)
(you might also notice that everyone has been doing this all along. Every credit card. Every points card. Every magazine you subscribe to. Every rewards club you join. The government. The census. All these people are selling your data, too.)
The bottom line: YOUR DATA IS NOT THAT PRECIOUS. YOU ARE NOT THAT SPECIAL! YOU ARE BEING WATCHED GET USED TO IT! SOMETIMES YOU’LL BUY SOMETHING. SOMETIMES YOU’LL VOTE FOR A PERSON. SOMETIMES THEY’LL MAKE YOU DO THINGS YOU AREN’T COMFORTABLE WITH. SOMETIMES THEY WILL RESHAPE YOUR ENTIRE WORLDVIEW BUT MAKE YOU THINK IT WAS YOUR IDEA ALL ALONG. AFTER A WHILE IT DOESN’T EVEN HURT ANYMORE!