There’s an ancient adage—ancient in terms of our Internet Age, at least: If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.  Do you think Facebook is free?  Take a look at those ads in your Facebook feed, and over on the right-hand side of the page.  Ever wonder why so many of them seem tailor-made for you?  Your spouse sees different ads.  So do your children.  And your parents.  And your friends.

That’s because all of the one billion-plus active users of Facebook, all of whom are getting this wonderful service “for free,” are not Facebook’s customers; they’re Facebook’s product.  Facebook’s real customers are the companies that place those ads.  Every time you log on to Facebook, you’re being sold, bit by bit (no pun intended), to those companies.  They can target their ads so well because you give Facebook all of the information its ad-sales team needs to determine whether you’re likely to find a particular ad of interest.  That information includes not only the personal details that you enter on your profile, but the posts that you “react to” (“like” is so six months ago!) and comment on, and perhaps most importantly the links that you click.

But there’s more: Have you ever clicked on an ad on a different, “free” website, and then noticed that...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here