Earlier this year Facebook launched a set of six colorful emoticons that give users to ability express a range of virtual emotions beyond the now ubiquitous Like button, ranging from anger to love. The new emoticons came in response to years of complaints for FB not providing a ‘Dislike’ button to posts.
All well and good, correct? Not so fast. While the new Facebook Reaction emoticons do give users a wider range of “expressions” to feed posts, the buttons hide an ulterior motive that goes beyond showing much love, or much hate.
Michaela Whitton at TheAntiMedia.org explains things further…
However, the new expressions are another big ‘like’ for Facebook and a ‘dislike’ for its users — according to Belgian police who claim the site is using them as a way to collect information on people to target advertising toward them. In a statement released on their official website on Wednesday, the Belgian force warned people to avoid using the series of emoticons if they want to preserve their privacy.
The statement on the police website reads, “The icons help not only express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of the ads on your profile.” It adds, “One more reason not to click if you want to protect your privacy.”
The statement warns that users are simply a ‘product’ to Facebook, claiming their reactions to posts are helping the social networking giant build up a profile of them. As a result of the profiling, the site will target ads it thinks users will be more receptive to based on how they are reacting to specific posts at the time.
“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective,” the police said. “By mouse clicks you can let them know what makes you happy.”
In short, the moment Facebook gauges that the user is in a good mood, it will cash in on that by showing them an ad.
It’s no secret Facebook’s growth is fuelled by advertising. In 2015, the company received 96.5% of its revenue from ads, which generated a staggering $17.08 billion in revenue. Just days after former Facebook employees accused the platform of censoring stories while pushing others, few will be surprised to learn the marketing champion has seized another opportunity to do what it does best — collect more information on its users.
And so we return to the main lesson in all of this, mainly that Facebook is not a free service…someone is paying for it, and if it is not the user than it’s the advertiser. Belgian citizens, feel free to use Facebook Reaction buttons because they are what’s keeping FB free to use…otherwise lets all just pay a monthly subscription to Zuck & Co. and enjoy a Facebook free of snooping.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.