Facebook: It’s not just the data you should be worried about.


Karl du Fresne takes a friendly stab at Facebook. Quote:

I note that $80 billion was wiped off the value of Facebook’s shares following a scandal over privacy breaches.End quote.

Also around one in ten American Facebook users have ditched the site. Quote:

[…]Schadenfreude – the enjoyment of other people’s misfortunes – can be strangely satisfying. I thought there was poetic justice in the spectacle of Oxfam officials squirming over the sexual abuse scandal, and I felt a similar frisson of pleasure when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to undertake a public mea culpa after it was revealed his firm had allowed users’ personal data to be covertly “harvested” for political purposes.End quote.

Those purposes were, of course, to help the Trump campaign target swing voters more likely to vote for the Don than for Hillary. Oh, the irony considering Facebook actively censors conservative and pro-Trump voices. I would have loved to have seen Mark’s face when he found out what Cambridge Analytica had done. Quote:

The Facebook controversy resulted in millions of users worldwide de-activating their Facebook accounts or deleting them altogether, which can only be a good thing. Perhaps the social media phenomenon has peaked.

[..]This [connecting with others], of course, is the great lure of Facebook. It acquired its aura of legitimacy by harnessing the power of digital technology to connect people – hence the phrase “social media”. But it could just as accurately be described as anti-social media, because its addictive qualities mean that many users become fixated by digital relationships to the detriment of real-life ones, spending hours every day online at the expense of those closest to them. It offers escapism and distraction on a massive and frightening scale.
This was no accident. Sean Parker, a billionaire early investor in Facebook, told a conference last November that Zuckerberg had knowingly created a monster that was designed to act like a drug delivering a dopamine-type hit. End quote.

You may be being a bit too harsh here, Karl. Lots of things deliver a dopamine hit with food and sex being the most obvious examples. And if we’re going to bag Facebook why not all other interactive websites that reward user activity? Quote:

And of course the commercial genius of the Facebook model, its real raison d’etre, was that it gave advertisers a platform on which to sell people things, while simultaneously harvesting personal details about users that enabled them to be very precisely targeted – not just by people with something to sell but as we now know, by shadowy political operators building personal profiles as a means of targeting votes. End quote.

Personally, and this is just my personal opinion, I don’t believe Facebook was set up for that purpose. I think Mark just figured it out as he went along. Quote:

[…]A crucial element of the Facebook model is that it depends heavily on human vanity and caprice. There is a powerful temptation to blurt out something on Facebook – something you imagine to be clever – and later regret it. Perhaps there should be a mandatory 30-minute time lag in which you can reconsider.

And of course there’s a scarily high price to be paid for all this self-aggrandisement and titillation, because Facebook relies on people being willing to expose the minutiae of their personal lives. That was Zuckerberg’s other stroke of genius: Facebook invites users to become accomplices in the relinquishing of their own privacy, and lemming-like, they comply.End quote.

It’s not lemming-like if you’re not told there’s a cliff. And that’s where Facebook’s big mistake comes in: not making it clear to users that their personal data was not only being stored but could be used and sold by and to third parties. I don’t mind my personal data being used by third parties but do mind it being sold.

All in all, though, abuse of personal data is one of the least reasons why people should be wary of Facebook.

As mentioned previously there’s the blatant censorship of conservative voices. Then there’s the fact that people, especially when young, put up stuff they really shouldn’t. Liked to party and take drugs when you were in your early twenties and post it up on Facebook? Don’t worry, Facebook has your back, even like ten years later when you’ve grown up, dropped the partying, and are applying for that job… Yes, employers do check the Facebook pages of candidates as well they should.

But imagine if Cambridge had instead been hired by the Hillary campaign. Would the media be showing the same level of outrage? Yeah, Nah. Let’s face it (heh), Facebook would probably be bragging about how they helped elect Hillary.


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Libertarian and pragmatic anarchist. Treat everything the media says as a lie and know the narrative. Facts trump rhetoric.

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