Using the example of a parasite, Michael Caulfield wonders if we have a webo-plasmosis that encourages us to mindlessly share personal details online that can then be mined by advertisers.
It might be time to start thinking of corporate social media in this way, as a parasitic virus that gets us to offer our private lives up to advertisers, believing all the time that it is our own idea. Instead of making us tolerate the smell of cat urine, webo-plasmosis encourages us to share intimate details of our lives with marketers and cloud databases. It convinces us that we should never delete any information ever, that we should always post under our real name, that we should spend our time online defining for platform capitalism the things we like and the things we don't so that we can be more effectively manipulated by advertising. (Source)
Caulfield provides a partial list for users to identify if they have the parasite.
Do you retweet headlines you agree with to help Facebook build a profile of you, while not reading the articles? Do you take pictures of your food, helpfully labelling your dietary habits, consumption patterns, and common meal ingredients? Have you become an email hoarder, never bulk deleting old email on fear "you might need it someday", thereby preserving the vast library of documents Google needs to model your affinities, desires, and personal secrets? When something happens to you of note, do you feel compelled to log it on the web? Do you join Facebook groups that best express who you are? Do you use Amazon Alexa's much touted "Shopping List" feature to build a list of things you intend to buy locally, so that Amazon now has a list of things you buy locally? Do you wince at the thought of taking old tweets offline, because of all the "old memories" stored in tweets you haven't looked at for five years? Do you authenticate into third-party services using Twitter, Facebook, and Google identity so that they can better track your online behavior? Do you never use aliases or pseudonyms online, and are you convinced that this "transparency" somehow makes you a "more honest person"? Do you find yourself posting lists of bands you've seen, or asking friends to share "one memory they have about you"?