If it’s free…YOU are the product.

I’ve been trying to get people to understand for a while that they need to be almost conspiracy-theory-level paranoid about what they put online, particularly on Facebook.  I used to tell all my students to make sure that there were never any cameras around if they were about to do something stupid.  In the age of camera phones, that rule seems almost impossible.

Still, I seem to get some funny looks when I try to explain to people that their personal information is the real commodity that is being sold on Facebook.  I use a note program that allows me to scan in images and text for business cards, internet clippings, old hand-written notes, etc.  That same image recognition technology is being used by Facebook and other sites to catalog ALL of your data.  It is called data mining.  Why would they do that?  So they can sell you something.

As creepy as that is, there is perhaps a more sinister question.  Who else will have access to that data?  Insurance companies who will set your premiums based on your activities?  Future or current employers who will hire based on your personal choices?  Governmental agencies who won’t need a warrant to see everything about you?

Think that I’m crazy?  Look at the picture.  One targeted ad is based on the dirty boots my daughter is wearing in the photo.  Another ad is based on my friend’s comment and the content of the picture.

Have fun trying to scrub your Facebook content.

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