I logged off of Facebook four years ago after my dad died. I couldn't bear the thought of getting condolences from a few hundred people, many of whom I wouldn't call "active" friends. You know what I mean — I had Facebook friends I haven't seen in 20, 30 years...
For whatever reason, I felt very protective of my dad's memory after he passed. I just didn't want to share his memory or the profound sense of loss I was feeling at the time.
And the thing about Facebook is that if you have an account, you are sharing every aspect of your digital life. Because Facebook follows you around the internet. Every website you visit. Every password you enter. Every email you get.
Worse, you're not just sharing with Facebook, either. Your information is Facebook's business. Anybody who wants to pay Facebook's ad fees can access your info, right down to your phone number and street address if you have posted it.
It's the same for all your friends. Because that's how the licensing agreement you signed works. It's like one big family!
Facebook generated around $55 billion in revenue from your information last year. All you got was storage space for photos. They say that when a product is free, you are the product. 100% true in this case...
A couple years ago, some clever individual used the phrase "surveillance capitalism" to describe Facebook's business model. And clearly, it's not just Facebook that is making billions of dollars from collecting your information and selling it...
Do you have a Gmail account? Roughly 25% of Americans do. And if you use Gmail, then Google has a record of every email you ever sent or received. Plus, they have the content of all those emails.
Google also makes the Android operating system that powers most of the world's cell phones. Yep, that means for every call, every text, every app, every tweet, email, or whatever else you do on your phone, Google has a front-row seat.
Oh, and have you installed one of those personal assistant speaker thingies into your home? Alexa or Siri? Well, congratulations. Now you've got Amazon listening to every word you or anyone else says in your home.
Look at this list of companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google. Each one holds a prominent spot on the list of the top 10 most valuable companies in the world. Except for Apple, you'll also find the founders of these companies high on list of richest people in the world.
Now, if you have no problem with people literally getting rich off of you by selling your personal information, well, I don't know what to say.
But if you wanna get a measure of revenge on the Surveillance Capitalists — and maybe put a little capital in your own bank account — then I've got a couple ideas for you...
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Getting Some Facebook Money
It's been a few months since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to explain Congress exactly how he was protecting people's personal information. It should have been pretty clear to anyone who tuned in that Facebook decided a long time ago to skip the whole "protecting user data" thing.
It opted for the cash grab.
Now, in Facebook's defense, we have to acknowledge that we are still in the early innings of the internet. Most of us haven't even been online for 20 years.
And social media is an even newer phenomenon. Was there any way to imagine that Facebook would have nearly 2 billion users? It's just an absurd number. And speaking of absurd, did you know that 1 in 5 page views on the internet is a Facebook page? They're 20% of the web!
My point is simply that I'm not surprised there are growing pains for Facebook.
I'll admit, it feels weird to say that a company worth $500 billion can have growing pains. But think about this: Every time Facebook stock drops $10, it means some investors and traders out there are getting $2.7 billion richer.
The total range for Facebook stock from highs to lows over the last year was nearly $100. Which means some in-the-know investors took a couple hundred billion in Facebook profits. Pretty staggering numbers.
Now that Congress is intent on forcing Facebook to protect your data, you can bet there's gonna be more paydays like these. Because Facebook simply isn't going to be able to sell you out to the highest bidder.
I'm sharing my best ideas on how to profit from Facebook's comeuppance tomorrow. Be on the lookout...
Until next time,
A 21-year veteran of the newsletter business, Briton Ryle is the editor of The Wealth Advisory income stock newsletter, with a focus on top-quality dividend growth stocks and REITs. Briton also manages the Real Income Trader advisory service, where his readers take regular cash payouts using a low-risk covered call option strategy. He also contributes a weekly column to the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Briton, click here.
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