I pulled the snopes card on a friend today and I kinda feel bad about it. While this is a direct result of that, it is not a reflection of that person or that event. So, this is not about you… you know who you are.
Look, I get it, the internet is a wonderful, horrifying place full of news and pictures and people trying to steal your soul. But here’s the thing. Putting a paragraph of nonsense on your Facebook page or in a tweet or, oh hell I don’t know, on whatever other site you’re using, has in no way protected you from the pages long user agreement that you clicked past so that you could reconnect with your 6th grade sweetheart, post picture galleries of your cat, or whatever else you’re doing inside of your web browser. You wanted the cool new website, tool, app, AI overlord, whatever it was and now you have that thing. So great.
These are private companies out to make a buck and grow their influence. They want the same thing you want. If you leave your lawnmower in my garage there’s a chance, possibly a good chance, that I’m going to use that lawnmower. It would be super uncool of me to sell that lawnmower, but maybe I could rent it to the kid next door once a week. You still have a lawnmower and a free place to store it, I’m making a little cash, and everybody has a nice short lawn. We’re all getting what we want.
I could tell you that, if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product. And probably that’s true a lot of the time, but it’s also true that there’s a business model for giving something away for free and then offering something a little better and a little fuller featured for a few bucks. Micro-transactions. Or selling the user base to advertisers. Whatever the case, nobody eats for free.
If you’re just posting the usual social media nonsense, who cares. You don’t. If you did, maybe reading those agreements would be the way to go. I’m just saying. If you’re trying to build a business, sell a service, or create something, then I hope you did read that agreement. Because some lawyer wrote that thing up and wanted to make sure that his client got what they wanted from you, was thoroughly protected from your nonsense, and had the law on their side. Your little announcement that you disapprove, disagree, or don’t allow means jack nothing.
I’m not picking on Facebook here, but I just downloaded their user agreement and ran it through Word to see how long it was, so I’m using them as my example. The Facebook user agreement is 9-pages long. You think you’re getting around that by reposting something that someone, somewhere came up with to get you to do exactly what you did. I’m afraid that doesn’t happen. You need lawyers to get out of contracts. That user agreement is a contract.
For most of us it doesn’t matter. Nobody wants your picture of great aunt Hilda’s cross-stitched poodle on an oven mitt. Not even Facebook. But if you put it online, it’s true, that shit is there forever. Maybe not on your profile or on your site, but it’s on a server back-up somewhere. If you go nuts and kill 11-people at a bowling alley, you bet your ass all that stuff is going public. Somebody is going to do the work to dreg it up. We all have the right to a reasonable amount of privacy and control over our content, but there are an awful lot of people out there working to undermine that right. Here’s the complete break-down of what I’m trying to say. If you’re online so is your information, your history, your preferences, a lot of info you don’t even realize you’re giving away. It’s a lot. But your choice is to not be online. That just isn’t practical anymore. That’s not the world we live in. So just be careful with what you put out there and try not to think about it. The internet already knows more about you than you would be comfortable with. But hey, maybe all that data has been anonymized. Probably not. But we can pretend.
“If you’re not paying for a product, you know, like arohen.com, then you’re getting that product for free. I mean, I’m paying quite a little bit for all this, but you… you get it all for nothing.”– Ronn McCarrick