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by Mimi O'Gara

  • Writer's pictureMimi O'Gara

The Customer and the Product

The business models of every social media giant all have one thing in common – and it isn't the colour blue.


Imagine the look of joy on Mark Zuckerberg's face when he reduced his base annual salary to one dollar. However, his kingly salary is still more than what he pays his hardest workers—the people who willingly work for free, for several hours every day. Zuckerberg's workers seldom take any time off. Rather, they willingly work harder when they travel or take a vacation. And, the majority of the 2.6 billion workers have never even stepped foot on a Facebook campus.

Enterprise social tech giants invented an ingenious, sustainable business model — anyone with a social media account is both the customer and the product. Perhaps this is why Facebook has no "customer" support telephone number. In that case, every time the phone rings, Facebook would not only have to get responsible for the use of its platform, but it would also have a serious inventory problem.

Your Data IS their Business

Behind the guise of freely giving people the "power to build community and bring the world closer together," is a complex user agreement that requires a lawyer and a Ph.D. to comprehend. But if Facebook users were to know exactly how their shared moments and private chats are being mined and sold (and in some cases sold back to them in the form of culture), they may accuse Zuckerberg and his Menlo Park friends of being tyrannical patricians. Because they are.

Every morsel of food that Zuckerberg eats, every square inch of his property, every fiber of his grey zip-up hoodies is paid for by you. Facebook earns money from your posts, rants and shares; photos of your kids, marriage, nights out; every Like, Love and Hug, and even your health data — you are being used. And for what? Acceptance? Self-expression? Agreement?

Fittingly, Facebook celebrated Juneteenth and the ending of slavery in America with a "day of learning" for staff — but chose not to give employees the day off. Think about all of this the next time you share a photo of your new dog.



Mimi O'Gara writes about diversity, women in the workplace, PR, healing from trauma, and the poverty that grew up sitting right next to you. Dear Boss Lady and The Word Shepherd are her recurring columns in development. Be forewarned – She is not a fan of the Oxford comma.

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