I don’t disagree about the motives behind the companies who own the big social media platforms, but I still have a different perspective on it.
Even though discussion forums, like this one, don’t typically collect and exploit user data, that’s really the only significant difference that separates discussion forums from other kinds of social media. User base exploitation aside, discussion forums, like GDF, are as different from Facebook as Facebook is from Twitter and as Twitter is from LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever. They’re all a bit different, have different purposes and different user bases who see and like or dislike different things about them, but it’s all lumped into the larger category of social media.
I’ve been heavily involved in social media for over ten years now — not so much as a user, but as someone who advises and helps clients get up to speed using social media for business purposes. Part of my job is supervising social media specialists who manage accounts that regularly get millions of views, likes, shares, etc.
So my involvement with social media is mostly an extension of everything else I do in my job — just another way to communicate with and influence target audiences on behalf of clients. From a personal standpoint, I have personal accounts on most of the major social media platforms, but I don’t use them much and I’m careful about divulging too much.