Facebook is about to join the ranks of the walking dead

Enrique Dans
Dec 21, 2020 · 4 min read

Facebook’s war on behalf of advertisers against Apple over new mandatory privacy warnings at the App Store, backed by full-page ads in several leading US newspapers, once again exposes the company for the shabby, sinister outfit it is: we’ve known all along it regards its users as raw material to be mined and sold; it’s latest action reveals yet again that they are the “dumb fucks” Mark Zuckerberg described to a friend several years ago.

Why would Facebook defend small businesses against Apple? Because it wants to protect their “right” exploit and harass Facebook users based on any variable or personal data they have revealed to the company. It doesn’t matter what the data is: if Facebook has managed to find out, either because you have told them or because they have been able to work it out, that your data is for sale. You’re just a product being sold to those companies that target you with their advertisements.

Furthermore, what does Facebook mean when it says it “defends a free internet”? It means one in which users have no rights at all, and where companies enjoy the freedom to bombard them with advertising day and night, segmenting them into ever small targets. As the EFF very well says, Facebook’s criticism of Apple’s pro-privacy tracking change is simply laughable.

This approach to advertising exposes Facebook’s hierarchy of values: its customers, who generate its profits, should be entitled to everything, but its users don’t even deserve to be told who is accessing their data, much less what they are doing with it. Pretending that small businesses are in revolt against the robber baron Apple for hindering practices that most of us detest is just further proof of Facebook’s corrupt scale of values, in which its users, the dumb fucks, are at the bottom.

Apple’s response has been clear and energetic: users deserve to know how their personal data is being used. With a single tweet, Tim Cook has dismantled Facebook’s bogus arguments about the right of companies to hassle users, to play by Facebook’s rules, to continue this normalization of what should never have been allowed to become normal. The control Facebook wants to deny people, which its business model is built on, has turned the web into nightmare scenario where ads follow you relentlessly wherever you go.

Apple’s move, which some analysts are describing as a game changer, makes perfect sense: when you install an app, it informs you whether your data will be used by other companies, and you have the right to decide whether to allow that. As simple as that: clear rules as a web standard. And that is what Facebook is opposed to, and why it is willing to go to war with Apple, full-page ads included. Facebook wants users to remain ignorant, unable to defend themselves against practices that the vast majority of us are sick and tired of: no right to decide who uses our data, how sinister is that?

Facebook, a company with a capitalization of $787 billion, may not know it, but it is about to join the ranks of the walking dead. The worst company by far to emerge in the age of the internet, every time it announces something, we panic: if it’s Libra, we worry about what Facebook will be able to do when it knows what we’re spending our money on. If it’s a tool to summarize articles, our hair stands on end at the possibilities for manipulation and fake news. When it buys a customer service automation company, we see a future in which companies will continue to hassle us through WhatsApp. If you use Instagram, you remember what it was before Facebook bought it and pimped it out. In short, Facebook soils everything it touches, reminding us constantly of Zuckerberg’s words: “They trust me. Dumb fucks.”

Apple’s move is a wakeup call to brands: get away from Facebook as soon as possible and start rebuilding respectful relationships with potential customers, because things are only going to get uglier. Nine out of ten internet users are no longer comfortable with the way their data is handled. It’s been clear for a long time that something had to be done about Facebook’s practices. The FTC’s recent anti-trust lawsuit, could finally show that the organization is not toothless, that it really is there to protect users from predatory companies.

Should Facebook be broken up? Of course it should. Its scorched earth business model has already done lasting harm. Facebook is a cancer that needs to be cut out of the internet. Let’s hope that the combined impact of Apple’s new policy and the FTC’s action will finally open everybody’s eyes and that we can leave the Facebook era behind us and make the world a better place.

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School, blogger at enriquedans.com and Senior Contributor at Forbes

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School, blogger at enriquedans.com and Senior Contributor at Forbes

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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