Social media is about the money, not you

Pundits witter about the human benefits of social media but the harsh reality is that the folk who own social platforms are only interested in your name, digital identity and your spending habits.

To Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn et al, you, an individual, are nothing more than a tradable commodity and whether you’re buying bullets in Cairo or condoms in Buffalo, your details have a real value to MagTech and Trojan.

Twitter, for example, has an insight into individuals’ souls as great as that which the advertising giants of the 1950s and 60s achieved for Coca-Cola, Colgate and other consumer goods. Mad Men they might have been but they were all-powerful and managed the minds of a supine public with relative ease.

Social media content differs only because it relies on decreasingly elitist mathematics (the word algorithm is common parlance in IT classes for 13 year olds where once it was the preserve of the better Cambridge colleges) and, crucially, is more precisely targeted at individuals.

Wearing my business hat, I love the idea that billions can be made from simple ideas with enormous speed. Wearing my political hat, I am terrified that as we engage increasingly with social media, social media becomes ever more insidious and clever at extracting money from our bank accounts.

It is mildly reassuring to note that the most successful – by a very long way – content company is Amazon. Why? Because the content it sells is real. Condoms, fridges, toothpaste and, yes, even ammunition – it’s all there.