The idea that social media companies regard their users as customers, when in fact, they are the product, and advertisers are the customers, is probably the biggest lie – or at least misrepresentation – of the online age. Why do you think we don’t have to pay for things like Facebook? The networking, the event planning, crush stalking, and all the bullshit we do on social media – all of it is there to entertain us while we willingly tell advertisers everything about us. And the more they know, the more efficiently they can sell us shit. We’re a giant captive audience, and companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter make unimaginable amounts of money selling our attention to advertisers.
Think about it like this: We, the users, are like puppies in a pet store; We’re given all these treats and toys for free, and we think, “Goddamn, they built this place just to give me all this fun stuff to do? What very nice people these pet store owners are!” when really, the toys are given solely to distract us from realizing that we’re sitting in a cage while people pay money for us.
For the record, I love my cage. My cage and I are so cool with each other. Leave me here forever. Give me all the toys. Whatever. I’m not saying we should all quit social media because we’re being sold to the highest bidder. Honestly, if you aren’t aware by now of everything I just said, well, let’s just hope no one is paying too much money for your attention. Zing.
That’s a weird analogy. Let’s move on. This is a pretty well known perspective by now, anyway. I only mentioned the customer/user/advertiser dynamic to give a little context for today’s social media advertising news: Google is unrolling new a new plan for ads which will incorporate users’ personal info – names, photos, and other activity – on Google or 3rd party sites. They announced their plans last month, and now here we are.
The Wall Street Journal, being the fancy-ass overachievers they are, made a handy chart to illustrate how different social media sites are going to employ the new policy.
Here are Google’s new Terms of Service:
“If you have a Google Account, we may display your Profile name, Profile photo, and actions you take on Google or on third-party applications connected to your Google Account (such as +1’s, reviews you write and comments you post) in our Services, including displaying in ads and other commercial contexts. We will respect the choices you make to limit sharing or visibility settings in your Google Account. For example, you can choose your settings so your name and photo do not appear in an ad.”
Understandably, many people are creeped all the way out and have been hastily looking for the Eject button the internet because fuck taking any chance that your face might be used to sell adult diapers just because you googled that shit one time as part of a Halloween costume.
Or, you could just go here and opt out.