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Dating and friend connecting apps like Tinder and Snapchat are the new “it” thing in social media circles. The apps are free, but as the saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

The new FRONTLINE documentary “Generation Like” apparently agrees. Airing on GPB tonight at 10 p.m., the film explores how social media companies are making money from the online lives of young people (and not so young people) - likes, favorites and retweets and so forth. What are the companies doing with them? That question is a good one for your math and economics classes to consider using this film.

”Generation Like” demonstrates how companies use the preferences of social media denizens to further their marketing aims.

“For the young person watching this to say, ‘OK. I could spend six hours a day retweeting things I get from "The Hunger Games” in order to get to be one of their top 1,000 “Hunger Games” people. I can go do that.’” said FRONTLINE Correspondent Douglas Rushkoff at the Winter TV Tour. “But at least I want the kid to understand what is his or her role in this scheme. Where are they in it?”

“When you’re socializing and self-expressing and your sense of personal worth is also based in how many ‘likes’ you have, it’s kind of important, I think, for people to understand not that this is bad, but for people to understand that they’re living their social lives in a marketplace, and what does that do to the way you think about yourself?”

The film also shows how marketing and social influence are coming together for good. “Vampire Diaries” star Ian Somerhalder, a social media powerhouse with 9.4 million Facebook “likes;” nearly 4.7 million Twitter followers is profiled in the film. As a client of the social media engagement firm, he uses his influence to further his interest in ecology and preserving the environment.

Here is a preview of Generation Like. Which is worse, the issue of Internet safety or monetizing people’s social media choices or both?