Right in the heart of Facebook’s user base, though, the concern about the service is far more complex, revealing, and interesting. The low-level hum of discontent, revealed in the recent hysteria over messages is due to our evolving relationship with data. It is a relationship most of us don’t really understand, but it gives us a general sense of foreboding.
The problem is that when technologists talk about data and privacy, for many of us it is still in the abstract. For technologists and computer scientists, data is a thing that lives somewhere, it has a logic and can be parsed, made sense of, organized into databases. It can be searched and ultimately sold. But as Nathan Jurgenson , a social-media theorist, points out, for most people “data is this weird nebulous concept that somebody knows something about me, but I don’t know what they know.”