We are the product. We have always been.
I think now is a good time to revisit this idea. It's not a new one; we just tend to forget about it.
I say this as just a warning to be mindful. I have no intention of leaving Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social media platforms that might be interesting to me. I enjoy reading other people's stories and seeing pictures of my friends and family. I don't mind the ads, because they are what support the platform that I enjoy using. Sometimes I even click on the ads if I think that they are interesting. This also helps support the platform that I enjoy using, and maybe support local businesses.
We have been watching television for free for decades - radio even longer. The networks have been selling us to advertisers the whole time. Social media does it more efficiently, I'll grant you, but we know going into it what's happening. We just put it out of our minds.
When I read about people closing their Facebook account due to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, part of me hears them saying, "You should have been sneakier about it so I wouldn't have known!" I understand that there is a difference between the terms we agreed to and millions of users' data being handed over to a political third party. That is unacceptable and they need to be held accountable. But, we don't want them being better at keeping us in the dark. Not really.
It's a brave new world. The President of the United States uses Twitter rather than the press. Social media is a part of our lives, even if you don't participate in it. We should not be surprised to learn that people are trying to manipulate us with targeted advertising; it's been going on for decades. We SHOULD keep in mind that we have the obligation to consider what we see and read, and then to think for ourselves. Make our own decisions.
And we should remind ourselves of this periodically.