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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

April 4, 2018

Nothing about Facebook is Free

Jason Miller

The recent data scandal involving user targeting and manipulating at Facebook was inevitable. The company’s business model has been in flux since the fake news revelations in late 2016.


The social media behemoth has marketed itself as an essential platform for your life. The only problem for you is that Facebook owns your life when you agree to use it.


Don’t get mad at Facebook. You agreed to let them own it. That’s why Facebook is free. It monetized your private life. Let’s face it... your Internet searches, your friends, your social opinions, and, yes, even what you eat is used to sell you items or opinions you may like. In the process, political figures, business owner, and marketing firms can buy access to your brain.


There are ways to hone advertising to just you. This option is a pot of gold.


If you’re a beer drinker who supports the troops, try our stars and stripes beer in the fancy ammo-can styled six pack.


You just looked online to find information about moving to Florida. You also looked up the best fishing south of Pensacola. Here are some boats that you might want to buy.


You’re a fan of good steak, and you also have liked conservative social causes. This conservative Republican is having a fundraiser at a steak house and you’re invited!


This line of gathering data is not limited to Facebook. Have you noticed how many surveys grocery stores want you to fill out? It’s simple, really. The grocery business gets your email address and other private information. Your email gets submitted for a chance to get a prize. The prize offered for the survey is cheaper than the value of the data gathered. The difference is that there is a give-n-take. You fill out the survey and you get entered for a prize. There is an exchange.


I use Facebook. I like to voice my opinion on it. I like to laugh and smile. I don’t need “likes” on Facebook from strangers to justify my self-worth as a human being. I am simply looking at it as entertainment. I don’t act like its private. I always act like its public and for the record.


I behave on Facebook like I would being invited to attend a party. I am courteous to all while still being myself. The gives and takes are that I get to use Facebook for free and Facebook gets to sell my likes and dislikes to advertisers. I’m fine with that.


The problem that many people see with Facebook not that it’s addictive, or emotionally intrusive, but, rather, that Facebook is guilty of a perceived violation of privacy.


In the end, intellectual property is what fuels Facebook’s profits. The sale of big data is what makes Facebook free to its online users. Social media is advertising gold. Television sells ads for the late-night shows, sporting events, and even cable news based on audience demographics. Radio does the same for its programing.


Some people are so stuck in the political attributes of our society that they forget the nature of political marketing. President Barack Obama used Facebook and other social media superbly to defeat Mitt Romney in 2012. No one complained then when the Obama campaign bragged about how they used big data on their ground game after their victory. Where did the big data come from? Facebook.


So, why the outrage that an analytics firm working for Donald Trump did the same thing that the Obama campaign did in 2012? The answer is the resistance.


There are people who feel cheated that their data was sold to their arch nemesis. All I can say to them is that Facebook sells my data to both political sides. Thus, to me, nothing about Facebook is free.


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