Facebook’s made-up reality

There is an elephant in the room. And if you believe Facebook’s realm, it has 5 legs.

It is a well-known fact that Facebook manipulates their users. But recently it came out that they have been “creative” with their reach figures to make (even) more money off of marketers.

According to a recent article by Adnews, Facebook misinforms marketers about their reach figures, resulting in large discrepancies between Facebook’s estimates and actual population sizes.

So much so, that Facebook apparently made up 19.3 million people in the US, 2.8 million in Germany and 8.72 million people in Brazil, to name a few.

“Made up” in the sense that they claim to have a reach in these countries that exceed the actual populations of said counties.

Some would call that “karma”. Others would call it “scamming”. Regardless of what you call it, it is deeply concerning that Facebook thinks it is okay to make up their own reality of the world — of our world.

Wait, what? Here you were thinking that Facebook only scams their users, right? Turns out, we may need an additional term to “Privacy Zuckering” to explain how they also scam marketers.

Privacy Zuckering

Privacy Zuckering is a term named after Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

It was first used as a term by Tim Jones in 2010 and has since then gained traction as a dark pattern (see more on darkpatterns.org).

The term is used in connection with systems or interfaces designed to harvest unnecessary user data with a wrongful or hidden purpose.

When you take part in a quiz on Facebook about your knowledge of the 80s, Facebook is lurking in the background and tracking your answers in order to profile you. Who knows, maybe your appreciation of Def Leppard would tempt you to respond to an ad for their greatest hits album?

Facebook is very aware or our privacy concerns, and improvements on the privacy settings are announced on a regular basis.

And for every update, Facebook scatters the improved privacy settings in a way that makes it impossible for users to find and make use of them.

Privacy Zuckering is a dark pattern. The story is “we are doing it to help the user”, but the practice is the very opposite.

And now it turns out that Facebook not only violates their users. They also make populations magically grow in size to gain their own business. Imagine that…

Privacy Zuckering is just one of many dark patterns that we describe in our book “White Hat UX — The Next Generation in User Experience”. The book also offers a suggested, better way to run a digital business. An ethical, transparent business that people will respect and love.

The book can be found on Smashing Magazine’s store.

The photo of the elephant is by Mikey C and distributed under Creative Commons license.

This article was originally posted on Linkedin

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