We Are the Product Facebook Sells

Facebook does not care what Hobbit you are, whether your name is on the list of people who deserve a nap, which side of the controversy your temporary profile supports, or whether the news you shared is fake. Or, to be more precise, Facebook cares only to the extent that it can control our behavior, keeping us consuming Facebook content, providing Facebook with demographically categorized eyeballs to sell to its advertisers.

Calls for a consumer boycott of Facebook is just one of the company’s mounting problems, all stemming from a rapid erosion of public trust. It failed to prevent the dissemination of fake news and misleading ads during the presidential election, and now it appears it failed to keep its users’ data safe. Tavis McGinn says he thinks the unauthorized use of data involves more companies than just Cambridge Analytica. “You have to assume that there are many, many other companies who are out there using the data in a similar way,” he says.