We all know the story of Facebook. It’s a place for friends, somewhere for you to connect with others. Since its humble beginning as a network to connect with college friends, it has now become the monarch of all social media. As other platforms have come and gone, Facebook has retained its place as the backbone of the social media industry. Yet, as history has proven time again, the reign of a monarch will always come with an expiration date. With a new movement sweeping across the internet, Facebook could just be seeing the beginning of the end.
Maybe you have seen the medias’ coverage, or a friends tweets containing the #DeleteFacebook movement. If you haven’t, here is the TLDR:
- In 2004 Mark Zuckerberg refers to Facebook users as “Dumb Fucks” for allowing the platform to access personal data
- As the platform grows, its terms of service allow for less restriction on the organizations use of personal data
- Facebook shares data with political consultants, marketing agencies, and large online retailers
- By using data analytics, personal data is used to target individuals and push products, social movements, and political campaings
- Facebook retains its appearance as a network for connecting users with one another
- Mid-March 2018, a whistle blower reveals the misuse of 50 Million Americans’ personal data, for use in the Brexit and Trump political campaigns
The results of these two specific campaigns came as a shock to so many people. It is possible that the data was used to target individuals susceptible to these campaigns, while simultaneously used to pull the wool over the eyes of the users opposed to these movements. Such a mass scale of data used for deception has not been exposed publicallly before.
Political movements aside, why should a Facebook user care about any of this? Facebook does not make any money for the amount of friends that a user has, or the number of likes they get on their profile picture. Facebook makes money by selling data and advertisements. This encompasses everything from selling sneakers to manipulating voters into a certain point of view. Even if the intent is as non malicious as marketing shoes, Facebook makes no distinction between the intent of the organizations that they work with. In short, Facebook is a company, and the product they sell is the personal data of users, collected under the guise of connecting individuals.
This isn’t a Facebook lynch mob. It is a call to action. Facebook isn’t an evil monster, but it does lack the transparency needed for an organization trusted with private personal data. People deserve to know what their data is being used for. People are a lot easier to manipulate when they do not know they are being manipulated. This is simply unethical and morally ambiguous. Hopefully, people begin to realize that everything put on their Facebook feed was put their with an intent. If users are uncomfortable with the use of their private data, they do have the option to remove themselves from the platform.
Facebook provides users a service, and that is to stay connected with your friends and loved ones. They provide this service to users for free, so it must be understood that there is a trade off. Individuals must evaluate the trade off between the importance of this service in their lives, with the use of the personal data. Will the reign of the monarch end? It is too early to tell, but if nothing else, hopefully this speed bump leads to a more transparent Facebook, and all platforms to come in the future.
– E.G. Scholl