Brooklyn resident lists his personal Facebook data for sale on Craigslist, because why the fuck not?
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years (or you’re a member of the U.S. Congress), you’ll be surprised to know that Facebook makes almost all of its money by selling our data to advertisers. Every time we share a meme, stop scrolling over that ad for erectile disfunction pills, or tag Cardi B in an appreciation post, that information is compiled and analyzed by Facebook, then sold to companies who push us targeted ads (so we, ya know, spend money on their products instead of paying off crippling student loan debt.) The tradeoff, of course, is that we-the-people have free, unlimited, 24/7 access to all of Facebook's resources. If you're a punk ass lazy bitch millennial like myself, you probably don't care too much about privacy or the security of your social media data as long as you get to share an ass-pic or self-loathing confession with your followers/friends every once in awhile. One thing that has always worried me is a fear/conspiracy theory that Facebook was physically listening to me through my iPhone. Thankfully, though, at a recent hearing with Congress regarding the massive data breach of at least 87 million Facebook users' data, Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) claimed FaceBook does not physically listen to you through your phone. PHEW. What a relief. However, I was shocked and appalled a few months ago when an ad for Lululemon’s "Anti-Ball-Crushing (ABC)" pants for men appeared in my Facebook feed almost immediately after my straight, bro friend talked about it for five minutes at a bar. Lululemon is in my “gross yuppie brands to never buy” list, so I’ve never stepped foot in one of their stores or searched for them on the internet. Not once. I WANT ANSWERS, Zuck….
If you don’t want Facebook to profit off the lifeblood it sucks out of you through your eyes, clicks, and scrolls, you can just delete your profile! But beware: Facebook collects data on non-users, too, and the only way to tell them to stop is.....to create a Facebook account and opt-out. One New York resident, David Sewell, decided to give Facebook the ultimate middle finger over the weekend by becoming the sole-proprietor of his data: He created a Craiglist ad to sell his personal Facebook data directly to the public for $666 a pop.
BRILLIANT. Think about it - why should a third party company get paid to sell personal information about ME? Bitch, I am me! I am more than willing to give the companies who buy my Facebook data that same data and more – from my own two fucking lips. This is exactly the idea David is suggesting with his Craiglist ad. In case the ad gets removed, check out a summary of it below, then scroll a bit further to read my interview with David.
About this device:
model name/number: David Sewell
size/dimensions: 5'11" / 177lbs
I decided to cut out the middle man and sell my facebook data directly. By purchasing my facebook archive you can check out what I like, what I love and what makes me cry and market your products and political organizations to me more accurately. Furthermore, you can know who my friends are, which ones I follow and which ones I mute. You can see how far I got in mafia wars and my high score in bubble bobble. How well did I do on that math puzzle that's driving the internet crazy? Find out by purchasing my facebook data! Here is just a sample of the data you will receive when you purchase my facebook archive: My family lives in Arizona and they have guns! I was born in Los Angeles but I don't live there anymore! I posted a picture of the ribs I made one weekend in Hightstown, NJ! I've been to Great Adventure! And much much more! Don't miss out on your opportunity to market to me and possibly manipulate my political decision. Act now, this is a limited time offer (because I assume craigslist will take down this ad).
Who are you?
I’m David Sewell, I’m 46 and I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with my wife and our two small, adorable pit bulls. I’m an actor and a comedian and I also work in location sound production for video in addition to a million other little odd jobs. I moved to San Francisco in my early twenties from Los Angeles to study art but I ended up with a career in IT and computer programming that started in the late nineties and concluded when I left that to pursue creative activities in 2012. I’m basically a caricature of a modern, white Brooklyn resident. I roast my own coffee, I do crossfit, I meditate, I’m an avid cyclist and I go to Democratic Socialists of America meetings. I bake a cake for a group of friends every month for an event we refer to as Wellness Cake and I make mouth watering barbecue for my friends and family whenever we are in New Jersey where my wife’s family (and my smoker) lives. I also dabble with internet enabled devices and C programming.
What is your take on the Facebook breach? How has it personally affected you or people you know?
I always assumed that Facebook was selling my personal data to whoever would buy it so I’m struggling to understand the issue in some ways. Apparently user data was released in a way that wasn’t intended by Facebook and a smart person at one of the companies that payed to use that data found a way to exploit it. But Facebook, Google and every other company that provides some free thing on the internet is doing so in exchange for the data they collect from us in order to expose us to marketing. That’s the covenant of the user agreements that every application user accepts and very few read. I always assumed this was common knowledge. My personal data wasn’t part of the so called breach involving Cambridge Analytica and neither was that of anyone close to me, as far as I know. Other than it’s affect on our current political situation, I can’t say the data breach has affected me personally that I know of.
What empowered you to make the Craigslist ad to sell your personal Facebook data? How do you hope to benefit from this?
I guess the first amendment and the internet itself empowered me. To some extent Facebook too, since they collected my data and then created a tool to download it. This is the promise of the internet, it empowers all of us to publish whatever we want with very little effort. As far as how I hope to benefit, I would love it if someone gave me a writing job or cast me in their movie, television show or play but I doubt that will happen on the basis of this one successful gag. I also wouldn't mind having a lot of bitcoins or good, old fashioned cash thrown my way just for no reason whatsoever.
Do you have any qualifications for interested buyers, or are you willing to sell your data to any Tom, Dick, or Jane with the $666 dollars in their hand?
I would probably remove any data that I feel may impact anyone other than me. So I wouldn’t include my messenger conversations or any of my contacts. Other than that, literally anybody with the cash can go nuts with my data. In addition, I’ll throw in any other data anyone might be interested in about me personally and a bunch more photos of me, my dogs, things I’ve barbecued, cakes I’ve made, whatever. I love talking about myself.
Have you yet made any money from your ad?
I have yet to make a single dollar from my ad. Someone asked me if I take Bitcoin and the answer is emphatically, yes, I will accept all cryptocurrencies. That person has not followed up with any offers of currencies, crypto or otherwise.
Does your family (the ones in Arizona with guns) think your ad is funny? What do they think about it?
My mom said I’m very funny and VERY handsome. My dad didn’t say anything but I assume he and my brother both think it’s funny as well. My family is actually pretty liberal and I own a couple of hunting rifles myself. Although we haven’t talked about the gun issue specifically, I know they aren’t necessarily in favor of new gun control measures where I feel we should ban all semi-automatic weapons.
Do you think you’re onto something here? Should facebook be worried about people like you?
I hope I’m onto something. I’d love to keep making jokes that are as timely and land as well as this one seems to have landed. I can’t seem to attract new twitter followers to save my life (@dablyputs) even though my wife says my tweets are hilarious. I’m not very consistent at tweeting though. I don’t think Facebook has anything to worry about. I’m pretty lazy.
Is there any personal data of yours that terrifies you to think is in the hands of Facebook and other for-profit companies (some of which you’ve never seen or heard of?)
I was surprised at the amount of data that was available in my own personal archive about my contacts, even though it seems to all be information that was user provided. So, it makes me feel kind of bad that I’ve ever agreed to allow any app access to my contacts. I’m generally pretty judicious about which third party apps I do allow to have access to my profile. I never use facebook login to manage my authentication to other sites and I don’t use any games or apps that ask to access my profile and I haven’t since like 2008. On the other hand, I like and use Google quite a bit and I assume that company is far better at collecting and using data than Facebook. But for some reason I trust Google more than Facebook to not permit any nefarious uses of my personal data. That’s probably due to my own naiveté and desire for convenience. That being said, I don’t do anything on the internet that I wouldn’t want the public to know. I think we all have to assume that anything stored on a computer is vulnerable to being seen by others.
What message(s) do you want to convey to the 2.2+billion (and growing) active Facebook sheep? I mean, “users”?
Follow me on twitter (@dablyputs).
If you were alone in a room with Mark Zuckerberg, what would you say/do?
I honestly have a fair amount of empathy for Mark Zuckerberg and I don’t see him as a villain. He’s a very intelligent person who invented something amazing that billions of people want to use. Although he claims responsibility for the path Facebook is currently on because that’s his role as CEO, the fact is that it’s a publicly traded company with a board of directors and an army of people doing everything they can to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. At this point, the company is a monster that’s beyond his control and Mark Zuckerberg is no more guilty than capitalism itself. And I think he genuinely feels bad about the harm his company has caused. But if he doesn’t feel bad about that, he should and he should also do everything in his power to make his invention something that benefits us rather than just a tool of manipulation. If we were alone in a room together though I’d probably just end up talking to him about programming. I’m sure he’d grow tired of my questions very quickly.