Facebook isn't some Big Brother or HAL 9000 listening to your every conversation like you probably fear, tech experts say.
Actually, they warn, it's far worse.
"Privacy as we normally think of it doesn't matter," Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, told NBC News. "What these companies are doing is building little models, little avatars, little voodoo dolls of you. Your doll sits in the cloud, and they'll throw 100,000 videos at it to see what’s effective to get you to stick around, or what ad with what messaging is uniquely good at getting you to do something."
Though it may seem like Facebook and other social media sites are listening to your conversations about, say, your car problems, then try to sell you a new car, in reality they've simply built such a perfect simulation of who you are it literally knows what you'll do or think before you do it, says Raskin.
"Imagine it's a stick figure at first, and as you use the system, it's collecting fingernail scraps and bits of hair," he said. "What do you care that you lost a fingernail scrap? But they’re putting it together into a model of you."
Facebook, Raskin notes, "has one of these models for one out of every four humans on earth. Every country, culture, behavior type, socio-economic background.
Raskin said it's understandably "creepy" to think Facebook could be listening to your conversations, but added, "isn't it more creepy that they can predict what you're talking about without listening in? It's this little model of you. You are super predictable to these platforms. It's about persuasion and prediction, not privacy."
And that predictability is what makes your data attractive to everyone from Russian hackers who want to influence elections to insurance providers who want you to live a healthier lifestyle.
"To influence an election, you used to have to hack hundreds of newspapers. Now there’s a single point of failure for democracy," said Tim Wu, professor at Columbia Law School, and author of "The Attention Merchants."