Facebook traffics in personal data: Scott McNealy

A co-founder of Sun Microsystems has advice for Facebook users who are unhappy with the social media giant in light of the privacy scandal that exposed the personal data of more than 50 million people: Stop using free products if you want to protect your personal information.

“The important thing about Facebook to remember is that if the product is free, and there’s a lot of free services out there on the network, you're not the customer, you’re the product,” Scott McNealy told FOX Business’ Charles Payne during an interview on Thursday. “Your data, your information, your profile is the product.”

Facebook come under fire last week when it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gathered the data of 50 million Facebook users, which was then reportedly used to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The leak occurred despite a Federal Trade Commission consent decree signed in 2011 by Facebook that required the company to obtain informed consent before sharing people’s personal data.

But companies like Facebook that offer free services online are trafficking in personal data for profits because they don’t have a steady revenue stream from a subscription-based service, McNealy said.

He dismissed calls for increased regulation of social media companies in the wake of the breach that sent Facebook shares plummeting, instead suggesting that users be more aware of when their data may be at risk.

For instance, if a company has a license agreement and a privacy policy that are longer than a paragraph and are written in legalize, it’s likely that what you’re doing online will not be kept private.

“Free is a wonderful service,” McNealy said. “But it is never totally free. There is no free lunch out there. Like I said, if the service is free, your data is the product.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April regarding the data breach, according to The Wall Street Journal.