The Forest The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy of late highlights what should be obvious to everyone: if you don't want your data, i.e., information about yourself and your preferences, habits, etc., to be evaluated so that various individuals and organizations can, in turn, craft and deliver messages that are likely going to by you received favorably, don't give them your data. Duh!!! It's really not that hard to do that. Don't subscribe to things...magazines, websites, services, etc. Pay for goods and services using cash, checks or EFT/wire transfers. Don't join organizations that may sell/share your data to or with others....Sam's Club, Costco, political parties, 501(c) organizations, etc. Does conducting oneself so that only the barest minimum of one's data be possessed by only a handful of firms mean that one may have to forgo some of the Digital Age's, the 21st century's, convenience? Yes, it does. But, hey, one more highly prizes convenience or privacy, but not both. Indeed, even if we were to have laws stipulating that one's data not be retained, the reality is that we cannot in a cost-effective way enforce such a stipulation. One cannot rationally demand "smaller government" and at the same time advocate for a law that can only be enforced by having swarms of auditors constantly checking firms' records to make sure they are complying with such a statue. Quite simply, if one, in this day and age, thinks it's all that hard to obtain one's data from a variety of sources, "pull it together," and apply psychological, economic and/or sociological theory (science sense) to that data so as to form a coherent and preponderantly accurate picture of what one's "hot buttons" are, one must be incredibly naive. Hell, data mining that is one of the types of projects (or components of larger projects) I've run for several clients.  In one instance, the client purchased data from several large retailers, VISA and Mastercard, a telecommunication firm, a few membership organizations and one mass-appeal website and cross referenced the data with my client's customer base. We usually ended up with hundreds of thousands of "unmatched" records, but also with millions of "matched" ones. We didn't even bother to "clean up"/"connect" the "unmatched" records. We just used the millions that were "good," grouped the individuals into "behavioral/preference cohorts"  and then applied behavioral economics' and psychology's theories of motivation to those cohorts to craft marketing messages that offered the greatest odds of favorably appealing to (1) most customers in all cohorts and (2) the customers in the "high dollar" cohort. So, upon hearing scant details about the current Facebook (FB)-Cambridge Analytica (CA) (FB-CA) hoopla, I immediately suspected that CA is a firm that provides strategic data solutions for political ends rather than, as I did, purely economic ends. There's nothing shocking about that. Politics and marketing are, strategically and tactically, the same things: Marketing is developing and implementing strategies and tactics to sell goods and services. Politics is developing and implementing strategies and tactics to sell public policy ideas. Both rely heavily on social science's -- mainly economics (for marketing) or political science (for politics), plus psychology, communication science, and sociology -- theories. Since firms like CA do much the same thing my firm does, though they do it political campaigns instead of Fortune 500 companies, I don't see there being something about which to be appalled. As I noted, one'd have to be incredibly naive not know data mining of that sort happens and that it yields material and the desired outcomes. People can sit in their caves, as it were, and say/think things like "it's just a theory," but social scientists know that description, discounting social science theory, is pure poppycock. They're certainly not going to waste their time trying to convince folks it's not "just a theory." They do the same thing I do; they say, "Okay, you just keep thinking that...." What else is there for them to do? They're not going to try to drag folks who have no better sense than to "kick and scream" about things they don't understand and who too won't bother to understand. The Trees At at more detailed level, the FB-CA matter has some areas in which some individuals are justifiably pissed. FB is justifiably irked that CA, without authorization, availed themselves, and perhaps for their clients' benefit, of FB's user data. FB defined to CA the limits of use that CA could exercise using FB's data, and CA ignored those instructions. That essentially is breach of contract and trust. FB isn't to blame because CA breached the terms of their agreement with FB. All Americans will be rightly irked if CA used the data to craft and/or deploy, on behalf of any U.S. political campaign, messages delivered to U.S. voters. Americans are right to take umbrage over that because CA is not an American firm. Sure, it's a British firm, and Britain is an ally, but election law is clear: foreign organizations and individuals may not coordinate political messages/messaging with U.S. political campaigns. Such firms can provide some services -- for example, they can provide data and data analysis, and they can perform market research -- but suggesting, designing, and deploying/publishing actual campaign messages must be done by Americans. If a foreign organization wants to publish its own messages as its own -- i.e., clearly stating that the message was conceived, created and disseminated by "XYZ Foreign Concern" -- it may (?) be permitted to do that. Doing so, if it's allowed at all, would have to happen independently of any candidate's campaign. Outside of that, however, there's not much, IMO, about which to be plucked. I certainly don't think millions of people need to be altruistically irked for FB; FB can handle breaches of its trust on it's own. Similarly, I see no sound basis for individuals being irked with FB. FB is not a governmental organization. FB's obligation is first and foremost to its owners, its stockholders. Nobody is forced to use FB; I've managed to live my whole life without using FB, and I'm none the worse off for not using FB.  I dare say the same be so for the overwhelming majority of private citizens. Notes: I am still amazed that people, even these days, myopically think of such projects as technology projects. I don't; I never did. I sold, managed and delivered them as process and strategy implementations, not as technology implementations. FWIW, I don't tweet, SnapChat or Instagram either. I have the physical/postal addresses, email addresses and phone numbers of the folks to whom I care to express my thoughts, and they have mine. We had those things before there was a FB and other social media platforms (SMPs), and FB and other SMPs didn't cause those things to stop functioning as they did before there was FB and other SMPs.