Facebook Continues to Ignore Privacy Concerns
We’ve come so far so fast as a technological society that it’s easy to lose sight of the many changes to our lives that have been incrementally introduced over the course of this century and the concessions we’ve made in changing our behaviours and attitudes to the ever more intrusive nature of tech in our lives. Social media now strives to offer users what they want without them having to even think about it. From ads for products that we might like to suggested videos that might be of interest to us, Facebook and others seem to know what we want before we do. And many of us don’t give a second thought to the information we’re freely offering to these companies for that supposed convenience, or how far it might go.
Facebook rankled many observers when it was reported that the social media giant was looking to partner with banks to obtain financial data on consumer purchase habits in an effort to make Facebook Messenger an online shopping destination. The company reacted by issuing a statement, clarifying that of course they wouldn’t use that data for ads, of course that information would be protected and safe, and of course users would need to opt-in before they would do anything with that information, demonstrating that they either don’t learn from past mistakes or are blissfully unaware of where the road paved with good intentions leads.
All of this comes after the stock market took Facebook behind the Farmville woodshed for its repeated and numerous failings at protecting users’ privacy or combating bad actors, as the company lost a record $119 billion in value in a single day. Rather than take that message to heart, Facebook seems to be doubling down on its bet of gathering personal data on its users, with a perfunctory promise to “do better” that reads more as a sincere desire that the story will be forgotten soon enough in the relentless news cycle.
None of this may seem relevant to those who use the platform for sharing their work with their online audience, but Facebook’s inability to responsibly handle privacy, hate speech, or actual fake news speaks to a larger indifference on the part of the conglomerate towards its users. Waiting on Facebook to change its ways and reverse course towards an idyll where user data remains private or, better yet, uncollected, is to misunderstand the nature of tech and big business alike. Facebook and its business model are fundamentally incompatible with privacy as we have come to know it from the pre-internet era, and instead of changing with the times, we should stand firm in our demands to remain private on the internet at our discretion.
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