Most people on social media think the platforms are selling ads to them, but the truth is that they’re selling you to advertisers.
Here’s how it works: Social media platforms gather detailed information about you from every post you like, every video you watch, and every ad you click. All that information gets sold to advertisers who bid for the opportunity to place ads on your screen. And the longer you spend on social media, the more valuable a product you become. That’s why Facebook will do pretty much anything to keep you glued to its platform, even if that means spreading lies about COVID-19, the election, or promoting other conspiracy theories. Because the ugly truth is that’s some of their “best-performing” content.
It’s a vicious cycle. The longer you spend clicking, the more data Big Tech collects about you and the better they get at keeping you on their platforms so they make more money. The name of this business model is fitting: surveillance advertising.
The best way to break out of this cycle is to #BanSurveillanceAdvertising and remove the financial incentive for companies to feed users misinformation and polarizing content. We’ve already seen where this leads: violent assaults on our democracy like the January’ 6th insurrection at the Capitol Building.