SUNNYSIDE — You’ve posted a photograph online. You’ve marked it for family and friends only, supposedly securing it so it cannot be found by a search engine.

But you forgot that when you post anything online, you’ve given up control. Your photograph or social media post is saved on someone else’s server, which is being scanned, analyzed, catalogued and mined for information that can be sold. And sold it is.

Most recently, Facebook as come under fire for selling information it collects from users. That information includes what you eat, where you shop, when you clocked in at work, where you took a photograph and so on. And when that data is paired with information collected from your smartphone by Google or Apple — which essentially track everywhere you’ve been and everything you’ve typed or said — it gives companies a pretty good dossier on who you are. Those companies then turn that information into advertising, which follows you where ever go.

Log into your social media account, visit a news website and read an online book. Note that the same ads seemingly appear on different platforms. And quite often the ads focus on items you may have typed on your Facebook page, in an email or searched for in Google.

Facebook and Google have made billions of dollars with that information. That’s the only reason they exist today.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to social media and other Internet users that their information is being bought and sold. So why then do those same users clamor for privacy when using those platforms?

Maybe that many Americans are gullible enough to think they can hide their inappropriate posts, photographs and fake outrage on a page supposedly only they or their friends can see. Maybe they are just expressing privacy concerns so they don’t feel guilty about allowing information on them to be sold. Or maybe they are only upset that they didn’t get a slice of the monetary pie.

Regardless, it’s time social media users stop whining about privacy and get on with their lives.

Social media users need to make a choice — continue to have their information analyzed, catalogued and sold, or quit social media and socialize in person.

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