It is no secret that the dominant social media companies now monetize what is not theirs: our personal data. In none of the agreements between social media users and these companies is there a transfer of property. Yes, users (and consumers in general) often agree to relinquish some privacy in exchange for a service or a good. But privacy and property are completely different. They should not be conflated.
Privacy is at the core of who we are as free and sovereign individuals. An individual is composed of many attributes. Some are public and open, others we keep to ourselves. All of them define who we are.
Apparently, there is great commercial value in understanding our attributes and then using what is learned. Sometimes this is in our interest, but many times it is not.
In the digital world, companies dissect us and package us for commercial gain without compensating us—and too often without our consent. That is not merely an invasion of our privacy, but in actuality is a theft of our personal property.