Is online privacy an oxymoron?

On social media, you aren't an individual. You're a consumer

Facebook. Everyone knows what it is. Most people have an account. Most of those people have the app on their phone. In our digital culture, social media has become the glue that connects people.

By using social media, you are divulging information about yourself. Each decision you make leaves a digital footprint of information about you. Each like and share is a record of information about you as a consumer.

A consumer, not an individual. To the companies with access to your digital footprint, you are not the neighbour down the street who walks his dog every other day. You are a consumer ready to be marketed to with targeted advertisements.

Information sells. Perhaps you’ve been watching a lot of travel videos and travel content on social media, so a targeted advertisement for cheap plane tickets may seem very tempting.

Even with a very basic Facebook profile, you are willingly divulging information about yourself: your occupation, your age, your interests.

The internet is a free service. We pay for its services with the data we create, and it is our digital presence that’s the most valuable to companies looking to profit off the data you provide.

Companies pay for access to this data in hopes of getting a return on it. After all, your online shopping history is a good indicator of what products and services you may seek again.

So, are we living in a society that deems you less valuable than the data you provide?

Deleting social media from our lives would seem to be the logical option to keep our information from prying eyes. This is much harder than it sounds.

Keeping up with friends and family would be much more difficult without social media. A social gathering might be organized and spread through the use of a social-media platform, and it is designed to be most convenient.

The multitude of third-party apps and services that are connected to your social media also means that, without an account, you lose access to certain parts of the internet and its services — which is, again, at its core, inconvenient.

Convenience is a large part of why Facebook is such a big part of our social lives today. A 2015 study by Pew Research Center showed that 28 per cent of U.S. adults used social media to connect with friends and family, with up to 97 per cent using their phones as a way of communication.

Cutting out social media from your life may also mean cutting off access to friends and family. Is that an acceptable consequence of keeping your data safe? That’s up to you to decide.