You Are The Product

Some friends of mine have been coming off Facebook recently, partly as a result of this incredibly long and often interesting article by John Lanchester in The London Review of Books.

I first wrote about this phenomenon a few years ago in the now-defunct Third Way magazine. Here’s the slightly updated version, but the main point is the same: You get what you pay for. And if you’re not paying, you are the product.

This usually crops up when rumours circulate Facebook that they’ve changed the default settings and now your information is being sold to arms dealers, or somehow you’re internal organs are being auctioned off on the dark web. You get the idea. And we’re all supposed to alert each other and paste it into our status updates so we can pass it on. So why not try this:



FaceBook has changed its default privacy settings. They did this WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE and so now ANYONE in the world can see that you’re hungry and want a biscuit, or check out an out-of-focus picture of your cat sitting by a bar heater.

This is GROSS violation of users rights and as governments, employers and advertisers can find all about you and target their marketing accordingly. But this CAN be prevented.

Simply go to your settings, at the top right, above the inappropriate advert for internet dating, go to ‘User settings’ and then ‘Information’ and then ‘Advance Information’ and then ‘Bit You’re Always Too Scared to Click’ and double-click ‘Privacy’ while holding down the space bar, and ensuring your computer is plugged into this mains at this point. You should see an information box that says the following:


Hello, Britishers. FaceBook here.

We’re like a usable, friendly, pastel-coloured version of the internet. Thanks to us, you can magically link up with friends all over the world, old school buddies, work colleagues (why?) and take a good look at someone you fancied when you were 15 now that they’re 37. Whoa. Scary. You could have married that.

But here’s the amazing thing. You can do this without having to write any Java script, Html or MaxiCom 9. There’s no such thing as MaxiCom 9. We made it up. But you had no way of knowing about that because you don’t know about computers, do you? But we do. And we built FaceBook. Using Maxicom 9, for all you know.

And you know what else we did? We wrote a smart phone app so you can use this social network 24/7. Some of you do seem to use it 24/7. Get a life! Ha ha (joking – we know how you Brits like a joke, right?). And do you know how much all this cost you? Precisely ZERO pounds. So let’s talk about that for a minute.

The fact is, we need to pay for stuff and we’re pretty sure you won’t spring for a monthly subscription. That would be the simplest and neatest solution, wouldn’t it? A few pounds a month doesn’t seem much for something you use all the time and that keeps you in touch with the people who make life worth living.

But you want everything for FREE. Even though you must know that nothing really is free. Your NHS isn’t free. It’s free when you use it, but you’re paying for it. Boy oh boy, are you paying for it?! (About £8000 per person per year. And you think our insurance system is crazy! (which it is, by the way. LOL.)) 

Someone, somewhere is paying for everything. And, yikes, do we have bills to pay? Programmers are not cheap. Especially not the ones in Silicon Valley who all want to drive Teslas. But then the upside of being a socially outcast geek is the whopping pay cheque.

Then there’s the eye-watering bandwidth bills, and huge energy-guzzling server centres that we built all over the world. And yes, now we have investors and shareholders who aren’t just expecting to get their money back but would like something like a return.

One of our investors is Bono. And you don’t want to see him when he’s angry. He clicks his fingers and people die.

So, we’re trying to make money because you’re not giving us a dime. (Do you Brits have an equivalent of a dime? Hey, I just read the word ‘dime’ out loud in British accent. LOL.) That’s why we’re always trying it on with the Privacy Settings. That’s why we’re trying to link other apps to FaceBook. Because we think somehow, this will make us some money.

That’s why we linked to your Spotify account and told your friends when you were listening to Rollercoaster by B*Witched. Why were you so embarrassed about that? They were a perfectly decent girl band and pretty good role models for little girls. (They wore denim, didn’t they?) And talking of Spotify, loads of you give those dudes £5-£10 a month. WHY CAN’T WE HAVE THAT?

Man, you people.

So that’s why we want you to click this box below. By doing so, you are agreeing with the following statement:

I understand that FaceBook is free. But I’m not an idiot. I understand everything has to be paid for. And so, I understand that I AM THE PRODUCT. And so I will stop whining. Or stop using, and being, the product.

Thank you.

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