There’s no such thing as a free lunch (and why I’m not planning on deleting Facebook)


A lot of people are upset about Facebook selling their data and using it against them.

Some people are even taking it as far as to run Delete Facebook campaigns.

My reaction to this latest scandal (and not the people all up in arms) could best be summed up by this gif.

Sure, after hearing about the data scandal, I too went through my account and looked at all of the apps that had access to my data and revoked access to a couple dozen.

The reason why I am not all up in arms — or threatening to leave Facebook — is because this doesn’t surprise me at all.

First as both a marketer and community manager, I’ve run a fair amount of Facebook ad campaigns over the years.

I have a pretty good idea on the wide amount of data that Facebook and any app that ties into Facebook’s Graph API can collect on people. It’s A LOT.

While I might not like it, I accept it and continue using the platform because it adds value to my life both professionally and personally.

Side note — If something adds more value than the perceived costs, even if the costs are high, you are going to keep using it.

This all goes back to a principle I first learned in my high school physics class more than a decade ago. This teacher — who was my first real mentor — introduced a principle to me that goes well beyond physics.

That’s there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Nothing is ever truly free. And, there are always opportunity costs. 

For a service, you are either paying with money or your personal data or something else. If you aren’t paying for the service online — like Facebook — you are the product being sold.

Facebook profits off your data by selling it to advertisers.

Whether or not you are on Facebook and how much you decide to share is up to you.

My general rule of thumb is — “If you are not comfortable seeing your social media post on a billboard with your mom riding in the front seat of the car, you shouldn’t post it.”

When you post something online, no matter how tightly controlled your settings are, you should always assume that it is public.

Or put another way, thanks to this article from Dave Pell — “The only privacy policy that matters is your own.”

You are the only one who controls how you use the tech or social media site. You have to set your own boundaries not only with if you use the site at all, but how much time you spend on the site, and what you share and comment on.

The people who are the most successful are the ones who are the most purposeful about how they use social media and technology in general.

The key lesson in all of this is to follow their actions NOT their words. 

The reason why I think we are seeing so much outrage about this latest scandal isn’t because of President Trump and the 2016 U.S. election ramifications, but because so many people woke up and realized they let the tech control them instead of controlling how they used the tech.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to tweet me @jessicamalnik, or drop me an email here.

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Jessica Malnik

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