In defence of Facebook and Social Media

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There's a lot of hysteria in the news around Facebook and personal data, and that's fine it's a slow news week, yet the real truth is that Facebook did nothing wrong. 

Facebook, like all social media, is a business, plain and simple. Their business model is to provide a free service to you, and from that collect information and then sell that information to third parties for the purposes of advertising, marketing, market research, and analysis. A wise man once said in relation to internet services,

"If you don't pay anything for a product, then you Are the product"

and its true of Facebook just as it is for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and so on. You use the service for free, and the company running the service and spending significant sums to develop and maintain it gets free and unrestricted use of your data. Sounds like a fair deal to me. 

Facebook will tell you its in the agreement you accept when you setup an account, and it is, but its also just common sense. So, delete facebook if you wish or keep using it in the knowledge that they will collect and sell your data as part of their business. This same framework applies to all social media, the majority of 'free' apps you can download for you phone, and other free services such as google, gmail, yahoo, bing and so on.

If, for whatever reason you object to any of these business models and do not want your personal data scanned, analysed, sold and so forth then that's your right, but don't whine about it on the very service you're complaining about! 

Outraged

To those still outraged at the idea that Facebook sold their data, Facebook is just one of many that you will undoubtably use and they are all doing what Facebook does, so singling out Facebook does indicate a certain online naivety. For anyone who uses 'free' email, did you know every email you send and receive is read and analysed by the company operating the service? Did you know that every time you use google to search for something they track not only what you search, but how long you spend looking, what you click on and for how long? Did you know that every picture you've ever uploaded to a photo service such as tumblr, pinterest, instagram, and so on is then scanned and faces recognised and cross linked between users? Did you know that the Chrome browser stores everything you've ever searched for in a file on your PC? 

I could go on and on so get with the programme and understand the model at work here and then make informed choices about what you will and won't participate in. 

Loss of control

One subject that has been asked a few times recently is how do you withdraw your consent for your data to be used? and the short answer is besides some 'settings' that change very little, you cannot. Whilst you can write to some companies and express your wish they have no obligation to take account, and further since they've already sold your data many times over the chances of you being able to track down all renditions and withdraw them all is zero. If you've used social media, search engines, free email then it's simply too late, but you have an opportunity to educate your children and ensure they make informed choices. 

This article generalises the business model although it is understood that each company may vary their model specifically for their users. There is no complaint or blame here, just education. E&OE. 

SocialMedia, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, ISP's an...
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Sunday, 18 November 2018

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