In the name of Privacy, Facebook and it’s Data Sharing practices

Image courtesy : Facebook
Cut Facebook some slack!
It was an honest mistake!
It was company that grew too quickly out of Harvard’s dorm room!
He’s just a kid!

Those were my initial reactions when I first heard about the Cambridge Analytica scandal which involved the collection of personally identifiable information of up to 87 million Facebook users that Cambridge Analytica began collecting since 2014. The data was then used to attempt to sway voters opinion on behalf of politicians who hired them (sources). Facebook has since apologized, testified before Congress and acknowledged that the way that Cambridge Analytica collected the data was “inappropriate”. Zuckerberg wrote a personal post apologizing and has pledged to make amends and bring changes in Facebook’s privacy policy to prevent similar breaches in the future.

But is Facebook really innocent?

I always allowed myself to consider what if Facebook is really innocent.

After all, they are young and were breaking mold and creating new categories. They might have been gone too creative with strategy on how to be cash flow positive as they are free service. But the scope of what Facebook has done has gained momentum in recent days with their submission to the House Energy & Commerce Committee detailing a 747-page response on it’s data sharing deals with 52 firms. (source)

Though there has not been any intent of abuse, they have been sharing data beyond allowable FTC consent decree which requires Facebook to obtain permission before collecting more data than what the individual’s privacy settings allow.

Innovation Stifled

Whether the whole Cambridge Analytica fiasco was polically motivated or not is a different matter. But the recent revelation of facts comes to this, Facebook did do all of the above practices with clear knowledge and intent and left the responsibility to your data with the end users whether it is the public, businesses or politicians. This is clear that if Facebook doesn’t show maturity in regulating themselves the government will and that is will stifle innovation in the areas of deep tech with the likes of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the coming years.