If you haven't been on Facebook this week, let me catch you up: There has been a privacy hoax making its way through status updates.

This cracks me up because this is about the third-straight year of similar scams. What really cracks me up, though, is the fact that people still think they have privacy. Haven't you learned by now?

These recent status updates are clauses that basically, in formal legal terms, dictate to Facebook (or any other online entity) that the company is not allowed to use information on the users' page. They state that Facebook cannot use, collect, or distribute their information — which could be anything from a name, a number, or friend lists, to just about any public information on our social media sites.

Let me clear the air: Absolutely every single piece of your life that is digitally connected in any way, shape, or form is rounded up into a consumer profile. When you click "accept" on a terms and conditions, you give companies the right to collect anything and everything they want.

I mean, do you honestly expect Facebook — one of the largest global human data banks to ever exist — to not collect our data? Come on, now.

The compiled consumer profiles are then sold as smaller segments of data to various outlets as behavior reports, spending habit reports and just about any combination of information to target people for effective advertising purposes.

Your digital footprint is much, much bigger than you think.


Data collection companies have extremely detailed consumer profiles on exactly who you are. It even tracks you down to minor details — like when you buy a Snickers bar at this store, at this exact time, in this town, with this kind of credit card and then you text your friends, "I just bought a Snickers bar."

Companies are collecting texts, calls, emails and credit card-spending information; they collect what shows you watch, what sites you visit, what ads you click on, tweets you send, status updates you post and hashtags you use.

In the end, to be able to report that "Joe Shmoe is this kind of person, who tends to buy this kind of product, at this time of year — and with that, we can say that he will probably buy this, this and this in the near future."

It's odd, no doubt. It's creepy, actually. It's definitely a privacy issue, but this is what we should expect when we use technology.

The only way to avoid this privacy invasion is to spend only cash, not use a cellphone and not be on a computer. (Which, even then they'll likely find a way to collect some personal information.)

We're consumers who companies rely on to make money. The best way for those companies to capitalize on us is to predict our actions — which is easy for them to do with the endless data we give them, day in and day out.

Yet, we cannot deny companies access to our data because we are using their platforms, visiting their websites, spending money through their banks, clicking on their advertisements, and so on. With these actions, we offer them permission to collect our so-called private information.

So, you can update your Facebook status with that clause if you choose, but the data is already collected. It has been for years. Enjoy.

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