OPINION: Facebook is not about you – it’s about advertising

You are only there as the target for the advertisers

According to the mainstream media one of the observations to come out of the recent election is that Facebook was full of false news stories that had undue influence on the outcome. The New York Times is quoted as accusing Facebook’s $50 billion CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, of letting "liars and con artists hijack his platform." Con artists on the Internet? Say it isn’t so. 

In response, Zuckerberg said that Facebook was working on better systems for catching misinformation automatically, as well as making it easier for users to report news as fake and perhaps using third-party verification.

Which brings up an interesting situation. Facebook, a company with a politically active CEO that makes its money from advertising — the advertising business that is rife with un-checkable claims, half-truths, doctored photographs, mile-long disclaimers, and computer algorithms to steer your social and buying habits — is going into the truth checking business. Who will check the checker?

You do know that Facebook is not about you, it’s about advertising and you are only there as the target for the advertisers, don’t you?  It’s essentially how the entire “free” Internet works.  There is nothing wrong with trading access to yourself for a service you find useful as long as you do so with your eyes wide open and get and use information with discrimination.

Business Management Degree.net (also looking for your business) has an enlightening infographic that explains some of the ways Facebook makes money from sidebar ads to campaigns that cost, at the time, from 5 cents to $5 a click and generate millions each. Advertising revenue was $1 billion a quarter in 2012. They made that selling a product they did not even own – your buying power.

One of the dangers of any Internet data collector such as Facebook that uses computer algorithms to steer your habits is that they primarily offer products, services, options and brands based on the desires and selections of their advertisers, not based on what’s best for you.

By using Facebook to its fullest you make it easy for them to manipulate your buying habits under the guise of offering you "choices" that meet your "wants and needs."  As if a database can really read your mind or evaluate your physical, psychological and economic condition. That job should be yours, but in too many cases people have given over those critical decisions to a computer program driven by an advertiser or intermediary.

We know the power of Facebook and other social media to both uplift and destroy and most of all to promote group think over what fashions, music, places or ideas are cool, out-of-sight, or the overused to death, awesome.

Learn to be a discriminating consumer of everything from the clothes and cell phones you buy to the information you get to the ideas you adopt. When you do, you will control your own life and how many "likes" you get or don’t get will not be needed to prove your worth.

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Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.