The Internet is a great source of information, and entertainment, but that is not all. Everything we do on the commercial internet is logged and analyzed. Google tracks our searches, offering us free email service, document storage, and more, while the fine print says we can opt out, but millions never use any privacy settings. Revenue increases with each product we choose, and each visit we make.
Content providers like Facebook intend to monetize all of our time, seeking "deeper connections, and engagements" while edging out all other commercial content providers: news sources, and any other social media providers: Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and Youtube. Facebook wants to be "your internet, inside the internet," so you stay and provide them with their number one product - You.
Add Google and together these two behemoths have three quarters control of all online advertising. The scraps that are left are split between everyone else. Everywhere we go, websites slips cookies into our browser, to better target us with more advertising opportunities.
Amazon is so huge, Walmart is scared. Amazon Prime makes it too easy to purchase in the middle of your daily routine. Local retailers can't compete, and they complain that customers only take photos of what they like, and will look for the same product online at a cheaper price. In four years, 25% of large shopping malls will have closed up all shops. You can't have a viable local economy if you don't participate by buying locally.
When we install software and apps, we quickly skip over the fine print, agreeing to terms, allowing ourselves to be tracked from one physical location to another, and our future activites, no longer private, will be mined and exploited for more advertising opportunities.
Sometimes the advertising targeting you is so accurate, you swear someone is "watching" you in real time.
We have become the product. We are under constant surveillance.
As the internet giants development more and more algorithms, there are less people checking and balancing the constant news feed for accuracy. Does it matter if it is propaganda, when it increases market share? Fake news spreads six times faster on social media than the truth and reaches a larger audience. Fake news spreads farther and faster on Twitter, then real news does.
Revelations that the data Facebook collects on each user account has been used to target 100 million or more users with political propaganda, is a serious breach of privacy, yet isn't illegal because we all clicked OK to their data collection when we opened an account or downloaded and installed an app. Except Facebook is tracking everyone, including people who have never chose to opt-in. Those cute quizzes you love to take on Facebook, each one is used to profile you, to target you with even more advertising and propaganda.
Data Collection is used to increase their marketshare, and if they can't use your data, they happily sell it to someone who can. The data breaches are not happening by your local merchant, who you liked, and is paying a few cents per customer to advertise an upcoming sale... sadly, we are being exploited by the largest companies we have come to rely on, or even trust, Facebook, Google and their developer "Partners," like Cambridge Analytica. Do you sign in to other websites and apps with Facebook? Those developers are using your Facebook and app data to profile you as well.
Facebook claims 2B users, and early reports indicate that selling customer data increased their company's value by over 17B. It is difficult to close an account, and remove all tracking. And you may not want to give up your online friends and family. If you do not like the data collection, and possible exploitation, you can make a few changes.
Privacy Settings to Avoid Data Collection
If you use any apps that connect via Facebook, you'll want to change those app settings as well.
Follow Up May 2018
By mid May 2018, Facebook has suspended over 200 apps for misusing data. These apps had access to large amounts of your personal data. Facebook says they will continus to search through thousands of apps in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Meanwhile the FTC is currently investigating Facebook to see if it broke a 2011 consent agreement over user privacy.