Big Data and Social Media: Selling U 1 Click @ A Time

I understand that my social media interactions are being bought and sold like T-shirts at a rock concert. After all; I used to sell digital media for a living.

But after reading a CNET article reporting that privacy experts are planning to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over a new Facebook data sharing deal, and a CNN article suggesting that Microsoft should offer its products for “free” like Google; I think there’s good reason to feel that as a consumer; I’m being more than a little exploited, and that I should take some kind of action.

The question is; what can any of us do to protect any shred of personal choice and privacy in the face of the unrelenting, fast-moving Juggernaut of ad-driven internet commerce?

Right now, the answer is “not much”, unless we are willing stop or at least limit our use of social media  applications such as Facebook, and let go of the idea that there is anything “free”on the internet.

In the CNN post “Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: How To Fix Microsoft”; it was suggested that Microsoft stop selling its software, and start offering it “for free” like Google.


First of all, Microsoft’s profits come in large part from the sale of licensed software. They would be insane to start offering it all for free.

In addition, Google products are not free. Every single thing you do with Google is tracked, recorded, and sold to advertisers. You are paying for it by incrementally and continuously allowing them to invade your privacy.

At least I know that when I create a document in the Microsoft Word program that I paid for; the contents of my document are not going to be scanned and shared with advertisers. You can’t say the same thing about Google Docs. There are some things worth paying for with actual cash, and I think retaining control over the contents of the documents I create is one of them.

When it comes to new privacy issues regarding Facebook; here’s my suggestion. Read the book I reviewed recently for USA Today called “Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us.

Its author, Andrew Keen, contends; “Data is the new oil, and the consumer has become the product. We need protection against these new data barons that are undermining our privacy… and I think in many ways, undermining what it is to be human”.

Find out more by reading my USA Today book review, and by following this link to Andrew Keen’s website.

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