The Real Trouble With Facebook (And It Ain’t Donald Trump!)
It doesn’t seem like good sportsmanship to pile on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as he testifies before the Senate and House of Representatives over the next two days.
But the reality of what Facebook is doing with your data is far more insidious than the charming Zuckerberg or the equally captivating Sheryl Sandberg want you to believe.
Ever searched the web about a topic — let’s say, buying makeup or comparing snow tires — and then for the next few days, ads relevant to your search pop up on practically everything you do on Facebook or Instagram?
The problem is that when we go online, we reveal far more about ourselves than the fact that we might be shopping for eyeliner or steel-belted radials. Our online searches, along with the sorts of things we choose to put in our news feeds, reveal many of the most private details about our lives that we would not want anyone, let alone Mark Zuckerberg, to know. Yet Facebook knows a lot more about you and your family than you could possible imagine, and it hardly keeps that information a secret.
Now, Facebook might argue that they have safeguards against intimate disclosures, claiming individuals are “anonymized,” — an ugly new word that suggests no one could ever possibly figure out that the person with the 16 year-old pregnant daughter was you. Or that you are suffering from brutal bouts of depression.
In point of fact, Facebook is able to glean information from other sources — drugstores, retail stores, you name it — which they can compare with the theoretically anonymous information that you willingly provided. And then they figure out exactly who you are. And then they can sell that information about your daughter’s pregnancy or your depression to advertisers seeking to capitalize on your misfortune.
Facebook wants to be seen as a benign, harmless organization that exists to bring people together when, in fact, it is one of the richest, most powerful companies in the world. If Facebook were a country, its GDP would exceed that of all but a handful of members of the United Nations.
Full disclosure: I run a ghostwriting company, and we use Facebook and Google to target potential customers by net worth and location. So now is a gut check moment for our company — do we really want to keep on doing this and feed the Goliath of all social media platforms?
On a personal level, I now host a video podcast ‘The Manifesto’ on a new social media app called PikMobile. The idea behind PikMobile is no ads, no manipulating your news feed, and therefore, no need to collect your personal data. Which means there is nothing to share or be stolen. You can connect with your family and friends just like you do on Facebook and Instagram, but they also have a digital PikStore where you can subscribe to your favorite celebrities, athletes, or my Manifesto Podcast for just a few bucks a month. You see and share what you want.
I happen to believe that PikMobile is the David to Facebook’s Goliath. They actually own the patent for the subscription system to publish photos and videos, which means they technically own the future of social media.
I think as more Americans connect the dots and realize that Facebook knows all, and, for a fee, will tell all, the revulsion will only increase and the world will search for new ways to stay connected.
And that’s going to happen regardless of the charm offensive that Zuckerberg and Sandberg have unleashed.
Look out, Goliath, David has arrived!