You Are The Product

Barely a day goes by that I don’t see another dire warning that-

If you aren’t paying for it, you aren’t the customer,
but instead are the product being sold.

While there is an element of truth there, it’s a dangerously simplistic, naive way of viewing customer-business relationships.

Consider that I paid GM a lot of money for a big, Earth-destroying SUV. Further, I pay their OnStar division a not-insignificant monthly fee for their services. In return OnStar
recently revised their user agreement in such a manner that make me one of the products they sell.

This is hardly a new behaviour for businesses collecting lots of data. Tom Tom, as one of countless examples, sold user data to police departments, among others, allowing them to more appropriately place speed traps.

Modern businesses comprise many divisions, each of which seeks to maximize revenue however possible. If they can package their customers as products and sell them, in many cases they do. Assuming that the transfer of money makes the relationship more pure or singular is pure sophistry.