If we didn’t already know it, the events of the past year have made it clear that free social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have a hidden cost: their users’ privacy. Facebook and Twitter are selling a product, and the product is us. This fact is disconcerting to many people who value their privacy — as it should be — but the monetization of user data is a central feature of how social media firms stay in business.

But what if there’s a better way? What if, instead of relying on questionable practices to keep shareholders happy, some of the big social media companies thought bigger when it comes to making money? How could they do this? Predictably, I have some suggestions.

Set up a swear jar and charge offenders a nickel each time they tweet a bad word

Social media companies should put their extensive AI and analytics capabilities to good use by scanning users’ posts for bad words and offensive phrases such as “candy corn is delicious” and “check out my SoundCloud.” Because no one wants to read that.

Sell hand-crafted books to Twitter users compiling every single thing they’ve ever tweeted

The perfect gift for the social media user who wants to know the specific ways in which they’re wasted a large portion of their life. And gosh, the days go by so quickly when we are engrossed in an endless social media rage storm, and it’s hard to remember what we’ve all been mad at each week. This book serves as the perfect reminder. It’s also a great reminder that what we post on social media is forever, and even if we think we’ve deleted something it likely still exists on a server somewhere or in the form of a screenshot.

Facebook selling your data - whats the alternative

Charge companies for ads and promoted posts

Oh wait….that already happens? Then why….oh nevermind.

Make The Influencers pay

The Influencers are the people (and dogs) who basically run social media. They are out here endorsing weight loss lollipops and dog food. They make a huge profit from these lucrative endorsement deals, yet pay nothing to use the platform that makes them their money. And they’re super annoying. I am not sure who the millions of people are that follow The Influencers, but for me and many other social media users, The Influencers do little more than sully the otherwise blissful experience of spending most of one’s waking hours endlessly scrolling through cat GIFs and political outrage, scrolling, scrolling always scrolling and when will it end. We must make them pay.

Charge users a one-time fee

Seminal humor website Something Awful charges users a fee of $9.95 when they create an account, and anyone whose account gets banned must pay this fee again to make a new account (which will then likely get banned again because trolls gotta troll). The flaw in this plan is that everyone on earth is already on social media, but with this model trolls could become a significant source of revenue.

Publicly fund social networks

So this wouldn’t provide revenue for the major social media companies, but it would sure solve the problem of user data falling into the hands of unknown actors. The idea of creating a state-owned social media platform is being kicked around in the UK, but I’m not too sure that I need the government to have access to my DM’s, which are completely innocent and in no way related to any plot to install the cast of 1990’s sitcom Friends as leaders of every country on earth so that when we finally make contact with aliens we have a witty and winning group of people representing us. What?!

Facebook and Twitter selling your data

A social media tax

Over the summer the Ugandan government found itself in direct opposition to tech execs and by extension, social media users, after unilaterally imposing a social media tax. The government proposed to charge 5 cents a day to users of popular social media sites. This move is deeply uncool and a threat to net neutrality which, to be honest, is already threatened enough, but hear me out. What if the tax was just a dollar a month? For Twitter alone that would gross over 300 million dollars, and for Facebook this figure would be north of two billion dollars. Give a portion of these proceeds to the tech companies, and spend the rest on Twitter users’ therapy bills, because trust me: they need it.

Charge for vowels

Twitter announced a few years ago that it would begin charging for vowels and allowing users to pay to exceed the character limit on tweets. However, as they announced it on April Fool’s Day, the measure was mysteriously never implemented. This is a mistake. Old people with vast sums of potential social media-funding cash (read: the 35 plus crowd) are inexplicably attached to the use of vowels and complete sentences, while the young, destitute millennials and whatever generation is after millennial have neither the need nor the funds for such luxuries.

The bottom line

The major social media companies will likely stumble a few more times as they learn to strike a good balance between profit and privacy. And as our society continues to redefine privacy rights in an age of oversharing, we need to be conscious of the personal data we’re posting on social media. At this point we cannot necessarily rely on social media companies to always keep our data safe, so it’s important to be aware of the types of information you post. That being said, there is one thing you can feel free to post with abandon: cat GIFs. Please post all the cat GIFs.