person taking a selfie in the lens of a security camera
PHOTO: Bernard Hermant

I know you’ll be shocked to hear this but that annoying sign you just clicked on, it’s not true. I know it said: “We care about your privacy,” but nobody in here really cares about your privacy. 

Don’t get me wrong now. It’s not that we actively don’t care. It’s not that we wake up in the morning with new ideas of how we’re going to abuse your privacy. Well, it’s not exactly like that. It’s just that you’re our product. We sell you, and the most valuable thing about you is your privacy.

The more confidential the information, the more valuable. What is there about you that’s worth selling if not the stuff you hold private and personal? The stuff about your daily life, your likes and dislikes, your habits (bad habits are even better), what you’re searching for, what you buy, who your friends are, your age, sex, relationships. I mean, you are the product. What do you expect?

You didn’t actually think this stuff was free, did you? There’s nothing free, my friend. Every time you get something for free, you sell a little bit more of your freedom, your privacy. It was always thus and will always be thus. We’ll get the money out of you one way or another. Free is just another word for pay later. It’s a form of digital barter, maybe. We give you something for ‘free’ and you give us information that we (or our partners) can use to get money out of you later.

You’re so gullible, my friend, such an easy fool. You have something that’s worth €20. I give you something that’s worth €10 for ‘free.’ Then you give me the €20 stuff, and I pocket a nice and easy €10 profit. Now, that’s what I call a bargain!

We give you all this free stuff and then we can nudge you in some political or other direction that someone has paid us to nudge you in. Or maybe we just allow them into your cozy little community and then their bots can have some nice conversations with you. You didn’t actually think it was all about the community and love and digital hippy stuff now, did you? We may be from San Francisco, but there’s no flowers in our hair, know what I mean?

So, we have to pretend that we value your privacy because of that annoying European Union and their recent legislation. Don’t you just hate them? All that stupid bureaucracy and red tape. The news media that we control have relentlessly exposed the EU for the consumer-protecting bureaucracy that it is. So, when we say “we value your privacy” we’re really saying that we have contempt for your intelligence. We think you’re so stupid that you’ll actually believe us.

If only you weren’t so innocent. If only you placed more value on your worth rather than on your convenience and getting free stuff. We value your information because from your information we make money. With your information we control you. You’re our cash cow. How does it feel to be the product?