There’s a meme which has been doing the rounds for quite some time, coming in a range of different variations and what it basically is, is a set of sarcastically assembled instructions about how to make money on Facebook. “Step One,” it says, is to “log off Facebook” and then “go look for a job,” followed by some subtle to full-blown insults suggesting that you’re a bit daft to think that you can actually make money on Facebook.
Well, I guess the joke is on those who created, modified and perpetuated that meme because clearly, they don’t know that it is indeed possible to make money from online platforms such as Facebook for those that know how.
It all goes right back to marketing and advertising. The general rule of thumb is that if you don’t know how the platform you and millions of others who use it makes money, the chances are you are the product and the platform makes money off of you and the millions of other users. Data is the hot commodity of the internet and quite frankly has been for quite some time now.
I mean have you ever wondered to yourself just why a short while after you’ve searched for something like tyres online, you suddenly get so many social media adverts related to buying tyres? It’s because someone is trying to target you and turn you into a paying customer. Platforms like Facebook have access to the data about you that makes such targeting possible, and this is valuable information that businesses large and small pay to exploit and profit from.
So, if you have something to sell, you can reach a very effectively targeted audience by advertising to people through platforms such as Facebook. By offering advertising services to third-parties, social media platforms that are effectively selling your information as their product.
It’s really not as bad as it sounds because ultimately it’s in interest of those platforms to ensure that information is held securely and anonymously, so it’s not like a serial killer can “buy” your sensitive information such as where you live, where you work, etc.
The nativity of such memes can leave those who spend our working days facilitating the large amounts of money being made on Facebook feeling concerned. If such misinformation is shared and accepted by so many, how many fail to take protection of their valuable data seriously? It’s true that the only information platforms like Facebook serve about you for ad targeting is your demographic, region and interests or needs based. This activity cannot harm you and you are barely conscious that it is going on. The information you publish about yourself every day for free is also a potential target if you’ve not set your privacy settings carefully. This is information that could be used for less legitimate money making if left lying around for all to see.