There is a price to using social media when it comes to users’ privacy and data, says the chief executive officer of BlackBerry Ltd. (BB.TO)

“All the big hacks, whether it’s in the health care or the credit service bureau companies, all of these big hacks cause people concern and [to] realize ‘My data is out there and I don’t really like that,’” said John Chen in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman on Thursday. “Then that causes them to examine all the social media habits that they have.”  

Despite social media websites being made available to its users for free, Chen said, “there’s always a price to pay, and the price is: you are part of the data, you are part of the product that you are consuming.”

The Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry, once known for its iconic smartphone devices, has shifted its focus toward software development and cybersecurity in recent years amid an ongoing turnaround effort. In its latest major move, BlackBerry bought California-based cybersecurity and artificial intelligence firm Cylance Inc. for US$1.4 billion in November.

Chen’s comments about privacy on the internet come amid heightened concerns around data in the lead-up to the Canada’s next major election as experts look at how the country can learn from the role social media played in influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“Everything comes together and says hey, the world is about data, the economy is about data,” Chen said. “And its privacy is the most important thing.”